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With Dignities by M. LOOSE, and a Frontispiece 











Ill .... 



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The history of Napoleon is of inexhaustible 
interest. When the English government decided 
to send him to St. Helena, after the battle of 
Waterloo, Lord Liverpool wrote to the Duke of 
Wellington, that in that island he would soon be 
forgotten ; he even repeated this remark in 
another letter. * Yes,' he said, ' he will soon be 
forgotten.' Yet at the present time there is no 
individual about whom more is written in all 
languages and in all branches of literature. 
Histories, novels, plays, are never tired of his 
story, and a serious student finds that there is 
no personality about whom more discoveries are 
constantly being made and with regard to whom 
it is more necessary to reconsider his judgment. 
At the dawn of the XlXth century, two great names, 
one in literature and one in the world of action 
arrest the attention of mankind : Goethe and 
Napoleon. Their careers have been so minutely 
studied that we are acquainted with what they 
did every day, almost every hour of their lives. 
Yet subjected to this fierce light of publicity, which 
few could endure, they both gain by it, and 
Napoleon not the less. The more we know about 
him the more we admire him, the more reasonable 
do his actions appear, the less well founded the 
stories which are told to his discredit. 

Napoleon was born a French subject, in 
Corsica, of a noble family of Italian descent. He 
received an excellent education in military colleges, 


distinguished Himself by his diligence and regu- 
larity, entered the artillery, and was made a 
general at the age of twenty-three. During this 
time he had been the prop and guardian of his 
family, which had been left in a sad condition by 
the early death of his father. He had gained the 
highest credit for his conduct at the siege of 
Toulon, where he had been the means of driving 
the English fleet out of the harbour, and delivering 
the town into the hands of the French. His next 
service of importance was in Italy, where, by a 
strategy which is still a model to soldiers, he 
defeated the allied armies of Piedmont and 
Austria, and subdued the whole of the Lombard 
plain. In this he was acting as general of the 
Directory. It was not he, but they, who plundered 
the museums and libraries of the conquered 
country. But when the Directory wished to 
annex Italy to France, he withstood them, making 
Italy into a self-governing Republic, and giving 
to Austria the rotten oligarchy of Venice, a govern- 
ment so degenerate that it could neither endure 
its maladies nor the remedies which were necessary 
to cure them. To receive Belgium and Lombardy 
from Austria in exchange for Venice was a good 
bargain, although it cost Napoleon much to make 
the sacrifice. After this the young general was 
sent to Egypt, where he conducted a notable 
campaign, which, however, led to no permanent 

The Directory was the worst government with 
which France was ever cursed. It had no dignity, 
authority, or power, it could not preserve order 


at home, and it lost abroad what more energetic 
rulers had acquired. Napoleon was justified in 
saying, when he returned from Egypt : ' What 
have you done with the country which I left so 
powerful ?' The French people were tired of the 
Directory, and they were tired of themselves. 
Bonaparte became First Consul by the wish of 
the nation, the fittest man, indeed, the only man, 
to repair the errors of the past and to restore 
France to its proper place in the family of nations. 
His first act was to offer peace to England and 
Austria, offers which were insultingly refused. 
He compelled Austria to make peace by the battle 
of Marengo, and England was soon obliged to 
follow her example. The Peace of Amiens ensued 
and Englishmen could again visit Paris, from 
which they had been excluded for a decade. 

The Peace of Amiens was broken in May, 1803, 
and there can be no doubt but that it was broken 
by England. Such is the verdict of independent 
authorities, who are not favourable to Napoleon. 
It was the interest of England to make war, 
whereas peace was essential for the furtherance 
of Napoleon's plans. Then began for Napoleon 
the war with England, which did not cease till 
his defeat at Waterloo. We need not repeat, even 
in a summary, the well-known tale of the Emperor's 
victorious career, but the statement that he was 
insatiable of blood, and that peace was impossible 
for him will not bear examination. He made 
peace with his enemies when he could, forcing 
them on their knees and claiming the spoils of 
yictory ; but England was always implacable, 


always on the watch, and war was again stirred 
up and supported by English millions. It is 
customary to condemn his action with regard to 
Spain and Russia, but Spain was a dependency 
of France, which it was absolutely necessary to 
preserve in a condition of tolerable government 
and of loyalty to the French alliance. To place 
Joseph on the throne of Spain was certainly not 
more reprehensible than to give the crown of 
that country to the Duke of Anjou. The 
expedition to Russia, which Napoleon afterwards 
regarded as a fatal mistake, has not yet been 
completely elucidated. We do not precisely know 
the causes of it, the plans of Napoleon in respect 
of it, or the proper apportionment of blame 
between Alexander and Napoleon for its having 
taken place. At any rate, it broke the power of 
Napoleon, which no other country in Europe 
had been able to destroy. It was fated that he 
should only be conquered by himself. 

In his misfortunes, friends and enemies rose 
against him, Saxony alone remaining faithful. 
Austria made the great mistake of joining the coali- 
tion, and entered upon a course which delivered her, 
at a later period, an easy prey to Germany. It 
is commonly said that at this time Napoleon 
ought to have made peace, but historical research 
has shown that he could not have done so, and 
that every offer submitted to him was a trap 
which it was wisdom to avoid. He fell on the 
plains of France before his converging enemies. 
He abdicated at Fontainebleau and retired to Elba. 
It was impossible that he should stay there. 


The pension promised to himself and his family 
was not paid, his wife and child were withheld 
from him, plans were formed for deporting him 
to the Azores. He took an heroic course, he 
landedfon the coast of Provence with a thousand 
men, marched to Paris without firing a shot, and 
entered the Tuileries, decorated and crowded for 
his reception. Never in history was there a more 
emphatic plebiscite, never a clearer announcement 
of a nation's will. Deaf to this appeal and blind 
to the consequences of their action, the diplomats 
of Vienna, led by Talleyrand, and followed, alas ! 
by the Duke of Wellington, made ruthless war 
against him, and in the battle of Waterloo he 
suffered irreparable defeat. What followed is 
not pleasant for an Englishman to relate. We 
denied him the hospitality he asked for, and sent 
him to perish by a slow but inevitable death on 
the rock of St. Helena. 

Such was, in brief, >his marvellous history. 
How are we to judge his character and his career ? 
The dominant passion of Napoleon was that 
nothing within his grasp should be done badly if 
it might be done well. There were two principles 
at work in the French Revolution, often mingled, 
sometimes undistinguishable, reform and anarchy, 
Napoleon was a friend of reform, but he was a 
bitter enemy of anarchy. No man living ever 
possessed a better ordered mind, and he desired 
that everywhere should reign the order which he 
felt within himself. England made the great 
mistake of regarding him as the continuator of 
the Revolution. He was the negation of the 


Revolution, the repairer of its errors, the rebuilder 
of its ruins. Consequently the most enlightened 
men of Europe were on his side. Italy owes to 
him its creation, Bavaria her civilization. Examine 
where you will, the Napoleonic governments were 
everywhere good, until they were spoilt by the 
exigencies of the war which was forced upon him 
by the hostility of England. If France does not 
admire him to-day, she is supremely ungrateful. 
Without him, she would not exist. When ten 
years of anarchy had destroyed in that country not 
only all government, but all the elements out of 
which a Government could be formed, Napoleon 
appeared as the great restorer, and the most 
stable elements in France at this moment owe 
their origin to him. 

This is the story which you are about to study 
in the present volume. It is written by a Norwegian, 
and is therefore more impartial than if it had 
been written by an Englishman, a Frenchman, or 
a German. It has had a large circulation on 
the Continent. It is brilliantly composed, and 
will doubtless have many readers in this country 
who will be induced by its perusal to explore, 
from a less insular point of view, the most mar- 
vellous, the most fascinating, the most instructive, 
career of any individual of modern times. 



The following study of Napoleon is an 
incidental outcome of research that I under- 
took for a different theme. I had an idea 
of mastering the reaction which, as I believe, 
settled over the whole of Europe, after a brief 
period of advance, at the close of the eighteenth 
century. For this purpose I proposed to make a 
thorough study of the Congress of Vienna, and 
this occupied me from 1895 to 1898. 

But as the inquiry proceeded I found it more 
and more difficult to interpret the story of the 
reaction from the Congress of Vienna to our own 
time. It seemed as if everything turned on a 
point that lay further back. I could not advance 
a single step, but was drawn, against my will, 
into the circle in which men and ideas moved. 
I made every effort to advance from the stand- 
point I had chosen, but I was forced to turn my 
eyes in the direction in which they all looked. 
Then I caught sight of the little man with the 
folded arms and the hat set crosswise on his head. 


I flung everything else aside and fastened on 
Napoleon, whom, at first, I had deliberately 
excluded from my historical inquiry. 

In thinking of the Congress of Vienna, I am 
always reminded of two caricatures of the time. 
The first represents all the sovereigns of Europe 
as children, sitting, with paper crowns on their 
heads, at a long table and playing with guns and 
tin soldiers. Then enters the officer with the 
announcement from the Consul at Livorno that 
Napoleon has left Elba. He brings a new toy, 
a box, which he flings on the table amongst the 
eagerly expectant children. 

Suddenly a little man with folded arms and 
crossed hat leaps out of the box ; and the second 
caricature shows all the sovereigns scrambling to 
get under the table, and the little man etanding 
alone amongst the scattered toys. I have such 
a vivid impression of these caricatures that I 
cannot really say whether I saw them, or only 
read of them, or, in fact, invented the whole thing 
myself. But that was what actually took place. 

They were so pitifully small, these princes 
and courtiers, parading in the venerable chambers 
at Vienna, and strutting about before each other 
and the ladies, much like the cocks in the barn-yard 
when the hawk has flown away. The most brazen 
of them all is Metternich's private secretary, 
Gentz. He has all the refined vices of the time 
together with an unblushing vulgarity that shrinks 
from nothing. He crawls in the dust, and is 
ready to lend himself to any petty manoeuvre. 


But at the same time he sees the threads of the 
intrigues and plots better than any other, and he 
jots down in his diary for his own edification : 

6 As I have nothing in the least to reproach 
myself with, I am far from being depressed 
by my intimate knowledge of the miserable 
business that was done here and of the mean 
creatures who rule the world. On the 
contrary, it amuses me, and I enjoy the whole 
thing as a sort of play that is enacted for my 
express entertainment.' 

With this eel-like slipperiness he came in 
the end to attain an enormous influence, although 
his official position in so important an assembly 
was inconsiderable. But he was not duped. 
After one of the dinners that he gave, he writes 
in his diary : 

' I took hardly any part in the conversation. 

The talk was all between Metternich and 

Talleyrand, on the usual lines. But I felt 

more keenly than ever how vapid life is, and 

how frail the men are who have the fate of 

the world in their hands ; while I enjoyed 

my ascendancy without pressing it. The 

frivolous chatter of the princes had drawn a 

sort of mist over my mind.' 

There was little to choose between them. 

After all the years of anxiety and humiliation, 

when everything in Europe had been turned upside 

down, they had lost all feeling of restraint. All 

the leading families in Europe had suffered 

heavily, in the loss of wealth and property, and in 


sorrow over the bright young generation that had 
fallen in the field, or returned from it wounded 
and crippled, with no result but defeat and 
humiliation. And the most frightful circumstance 
of all was that they had had to entertain in their 
castles the man whose name they could not bring 
themselves to utter, or had been forced to come 
and do him homage. Then there was all the 
deception that had been practised when the 
ladies at the older courts crowded about the dust- 
covered adjutants who brought the first news 
from the field of battle in the usual terms : 

'The French, with 20,000 men, attacked a 
Russian corps of 5,000 under Prince Bagration. 
Bonaparte himself was present. The Russians bore 
down on them, cut down the French like mush- 
rooms, killed Marshal Soult, and after a brilliant 
fight, reached the main body.' And, after two or 
three dances, there is a rush to the stairs, shrieking 
and consternation, and a general flight down the 
corridors and to the back doors. The French 
have reached the city. Marshal Soult, Duke of 
Dalmatia, may be at the castle before the sun 
goes down. 

That was all over when they came together 
again at Vienna kings and emperors and great 
nobles, Metternich, Schwartzenberg, Hardenberg, 
Castlereagh, Nesselrode, and, above all, Talleyrand 
with the lame foot and the thirteen oaths of 
loyalty. Which of them could fling the first 
stone at him ? Even we, to-day, despise rather 
the prince who received his thirteenth oath, and 


the contemporaries who looked on all his successive 
promises of allegiance with complacency. 

The ability of Talleyrand, in its cold false- 
ness, scattered the politics of his time to right 
and left like heaps of snow, and marked out the 
way for them all with such grace and amenity, 
such clearness and acuteness, that it has the air 
of the most rigorous probity. After the second 
restoration a distinguished French emigre came to 
Talleyrand and asked for his influence in securing 
a suitable position in the new court. 

4 Certainly. But what services do you rely 
on in pleading your case ?' 

' I went with the king to Ghent during the 
Hundred Days.' 

* Are you quite sure ? Did you really go 
with him to Ghent, or were you only one of those 
who came back with him ? Because, you see, 
there were only seven or eight hundred that went 
with him to Ghent, but when we reached France 
we numbered about five thousand. 3 

In his shrewdness he overlooked no current 
of feeling. But in whatever direction the new 
current set, it always ended in the direction that 
Talleyrand wished. In 1807, when he signed the 
Peace of Tilsit, after the battle of Friedland, and 
when Napoleon's star seemed to be at the first 
magnitude, Talleyrand said to himself : ' There 
is nothing decisive in the victory of Jena, in all 
the blood that has been spilt at Eylau, or in the 
triumph of Friedland. Poland has not been 
restored. Prussia, bleeding and bruised, is still 



alive and thinking of revenge. The Tsar, who 
has been beaten and has lost his army, has received 
a million fresh subjects in Finland.' Talleyrand 
saw from this moment that Napoleon was really 
sinking. He turned to other masters, and at 
once set afoot his intrigues with the Bourbons. 

At the Congress of Vienna he had so great 
an ascendancy that no one dared even to hint his 
astonishment at seeing him there at all, to say 
nothing of his being the first envoy of the Bourbons. 
His presence harmonised with the general feeling 
of security. When they heard his lame foot 
trailing over the floor of the Viennese palace, 
they felt that it was all over with the muddy 
boots that used to break in at the middle of a 
ball. But in spite of all came the sudden shock 
that ran through the city. He was here again. 
Napoleon had left Elba. All the old terror broke 
out afresh, and they scrambled under the table, 
or hurried home each one thinking only of 
himself and his own. 

I too left the Vienna Congress and began at 
the beginning. Napoleon Bonaparte was born 
on August 15th, 1769. As I read the story of 
his life, I noticed numbers of small traits that I 
now present in my own fashion. 


Napoleon did not enter the service of any of 
the political sections in France, and it was not 
until the later years of the Republic that he began, 
purely in his capacity as officer, to take any 
notice of politics. After the re-taking of Toulon 
under his direction, his talent was so far recognised 
in military circles, that the war in Italy was really 
conducted according to his plans, though he was 
then only a general of a division. In 1796 he 
was appointed to the supreme command of the 
Republican troops in Italy. He was then in his 
twenty-seventh year, and it was in the same year 
that he married Josephine. 

On April 12th he fought the battle of 
Montenotte, one of the first in the series of eighteen 
great pitched battles that he won before the peace of 
Campo Formio in 1797, and the names of which 
still reflect his early glory Millesimo, Mondovi, 
Lodi, Arcole, Rivoli, etc. 


The day after the battle of Montenotte, as 
the different divisions of the French army, which 
had hitherto fought independently and had seen 
little of each other, marched all together over the 
plain in the bright sunshine, and took their places 
along the shimmering Bormida, without any 
confusion or disorder, it flashed on the old soldiers 
at once that a new spirit had taken the lead. On 
that day were born the confidence in and 
enthusiasm for the young commander that grew 
stronger and stronger. All of them, generals and 
soldiers, devoted themselves to him for life and 
death. Prom that came' the blind unwavering 
obedience and trust that brought success to 
Bonaparte's carefully planned and able com- 

While, not merely the whole of France, but 
the whole of fighting Europe, now began to listen 
to his name, it was not less remarkable how quickly 
the veterans of the Republic discovered the 
great leader. They were accustomed to having 
their commanders sent down by each succeeding 
government at Paris, sometimes genuine officers, 
at others men who had pushed their way to the 
front in the troublous times of the Revolution. 
After the battle of Lodi a deputation of old 
grenadiers came to Napoleon's tent and told him 
that he had been appointed corporal by the army ! 
After Castiglione he was made sergeant. Bonaparte 
was shrewd enough to understand and appreciate 
these things ; and ever afterwards, in all his 
campaigns, even in the days of misfortune, a smile 


passed over his features when some old grenadier 
in the ranks called him * the little corporal.' 

The love and regard of the army for this 
leader who never spared himself led in 1797, when 
he barely escaped falling into the hands of the 
Austrians, to the formation of a guard of honour 
for him. Napoleon afterwards made his corps 
of Guards out of this famous troop of guides, 
and the uniform of an officer of the Guards- 
green with red facings was his favourite one. 
Bessieres, head of a squadron, who had taken two 
Austrian cannon at Roveredo with six men, was 
entrusted with the command of the bodyguard 
and made responsible for the life of the general. 
As Marshal and Count of Istria, he commanded 
the Guard until 1812. 

At once the men came into prominence who 
were to share Napoleon's glory afterwards. But 
not one of his later wars has so much brilliancy- 
one might almost say, so much festive cheer- 
fulness about it as the first two campaigns in 
Italy. It was, of course, a matter of life and 
death ; the balls were as merciless as ever, 
when they did strike. But the operations went 
on more smoothly there. One saw the enemy 
working away with his ramrods, biting off the 
end of his cartridges, shaking his powder on the 
pan, and then the long aim and the shot so often 
miscarrying, especially in bad weather. The 
artillery did not hold off at a distance ; you were 
not apt to be scattered with a hail of shells as 
happens to-day. 


During a fight near Frankfort in 1791, 
Frederic William sat on his horse and watched 
a republican grenadier holding a small bridge 
alone against the troops. The king had him taken 
alive, and said to him : ' You are a brave lad, it's 
a pity you fight for a bad cause.' ' Citizen 
William,' the soldier answered, ' we should not 
agree on that point. We had better change the 

It was especially in Italy that the war had 
peculiar features, because the French officers 
were young and fearless. They bewildered and 
bluffed the methodical Austrians, and frightened 
the more timid Italians to death. Bonaparte 
himself, the chief general, set them an example. 
Once, accompanied by only a few soldiers, in 
addition to his general staff and a number of 
officers, he rode through a small town named 
Lonato, on the day before the battle of Castiglione. 
The town was suddenly surrounded by a strong 
division of the Austrians, whose leader sent an 
officer to demand the surrender of the French. 

Bonaparte had the man blindfolded, as was 
customary, and brought into the circle of high 
officers. When the bandage was taken from his 
eyes, and he looked round on the brilliant company, 
Bonaparte thundered at him : c Ride back to 
your chief, and tell him that I give him eight 
minutes to lay down his arms ! He has got into 
the midst of the French army, and he may give 
up all hope once that time is up.' The officer 
hurried away, and the Austrian general was so, 


terrified that he surrendered with 2,000 men and 
four guns. 

Another time, in the year 1796, Lannes, then 
a young chief of a battalion, came upon a division 
of the papal cavalry, 300 strong, in the course of 
a reconnaisance. Lannes himself had only two 
or three officers and a dozen orderlies with him. 
Lannes rode at once to the papal officer, who had 
already ordered his men to fire and attack. 

* What are you doing ?' Lannes shouted. 
' Put up your sabre at once.' 

' Certainly,' said the officer. 

6 Tell your men to dismount and lead their 
horses to my headquarters.' 

' Quite so,' answered the officer, and he 

It reminds one of Tordenskjold, when he was 
tired of lying before Marstrand and waiting for 
the Swedish fleet to come out. At last he went 
into the town and reached the house where the 
Swedish admirals were chatting and drinking. 

' What the devil are you waiting for ?' he 
shouted through the window. 

So the Swedish fleet came out and received 
its punishment. 

The Duke of Montebello resembled Torden- 
skjold in many ways. He was recklessly brave, 
always in the line of fire, yet a cool and diligent 
commander, and kept his head in the most 
desperate situations. It was in the first Italian 
campaign that Bonaparte noticed how Lannes, 
who was then chief of a battalion, led his men 


into action at Dego. From that day they were 
never separated until Lannes fell in 1809 at 
Esslingen, a marshal of France and Duke of 
Montebello. He was the last of all generals to 
maintain the old terms of intercourse with the 
Emperor, and addressed him as ' thou ' to the 
end. He died in the height of his and Napoleon's 
glory, and escaped the evil days that tried so 
many of his comrades and found them wanting, 
or at least leave a good deal of obscurity about 
Napoleon in the end. 

Lannes was one of the officers who were 
always wounded, which is hardly surprising when 
we remember the boldness with which he 
exposed himself. There were others equally daring, 
however, who were said by the soldiers to be 
invulnerable, such as Massena. It was said of 
Lannes that balls flattened themselves against his 
bones. During the campaign in Syria he received 
a ball in the temple and fell to the ground. They 
thought he was dead. But it was found that the 
bullet had passed round the skull and remained 
under the skin at the back of the head, so that 
it was easily extracted. During the battle of 
Aboukir, where he still suffered from the wound 
in his head, he got a bullet at short range in the 
shin. It was flattened, and ran round the leg and 
buried itself in the calf. He received many other 
wounds in the course of time, until a cannon ball 
smashed both his knees at Esslingen in 1809. 

Lannes was also one of those who were 
wounded when they ran on the bridge with the 


general at Lodi, and covered him. The brave 
officer, Muiron, fell dead at Napoleon's feet on 
the bridge. Muiron was one of the officers that 
Bonaparte had discovered, and who was likely to 
accomplish great things under him. To the end 
the only way of advancement in Napoleon's army, 
however large it became, was for the general 
himself to pick out the best officers ; and of that 
they were well aware. His knowledge of men, 
extending over all his armies, was so great and 
accurate that he was as well acquainted with his 
officers as the leader of a small troop usually is 
with his men. He had, moreover, an eye for the 
characteristics of each individual, and he was 
rarely wrong in his estimate. 

During one of the Italian campaigns, on the 
eve of a great battle, a common soldier stepped 
out of the line, as they often did, with the old 
republican liberty, and said : * Citizen general, 
I know how you will beat them to-morrow,' and 
he began to describe a plan of operations. 
Napoleon swiftly interrupted him : * Be quiet, you 
scoundrel.' The soldier was describing, word for 
word, Napoleon's own plan of battle, which he 
thought was utterly unsuspected by anybody 
else. The day after the battle he sent for the 
soldier he had noted his regiment but found 
that the great talent had perished in the simple 
uniform of a soldier, and he had probably lost a 

When the supreme command was entrusted 
to the twenty-seven year old officer there were 


old and experienced generals and officers who had 
little disposition to bow to their new leader. 
Augereau, who was twelve years older, made a 
great noise, and said he was not going to have this 
raw lad from Corsica put over him. He soon 
changed his mind, and, although Augereau was 
never anything else in Napoleon's opinion than a 
brave and noisy swaggerer and incorrigible 
plunderer, he became a marshal and Duke of 
Castiglione, and was always with Napoleon until 
he finally deserted him. 

Napoleon never had favourites that he would 
put in high positions in spite of their incompetence ; 
and he was just as careful to appreciate and use 
men he did not like and whose treachery was fully 
known to him through his spies. 

Others of Napoleon's men came into promi- 
nence in 1796. Berthier, who had been in 
America and Jamaica with Lafayette, and had 
received a command under the aged Kellermann, 
the victor of Valmy, was one of Napoleon's 
generals, and a particularly intimate friend. He 
was with Napoleon in the Egyptian campaign, 
but was allowed to return home on the ground of 
illness ; though the real reason was his infatuation 
for Mme. Visconti. The indefatigable and fearless 
Oudinot, also, who lived until 1847, was with him 
in Italy. Under Napoleon he became marshal 
and Duke of Reggio. He always led the grenadiers 
who marched close to the Emperor ; and he led 
the infantry in the early bayonet fights. The 
soldiers were accustomed to seeing him amongst 


them. He was one of those who were always 
wounded ; he had in the end, I believe, twenty- 
three wounds. 

Besides the unfortunate Muiron, General La 
Harpe also fell in the first Italian campaign, 
being shot in mistake by his own men. Another 
loss was that of General Steingel, an Alsatian, 
whom Bonaparte always quoted afterwards as 
an incomparable leader of the advanced posts. 
Steingel was short-sighted, and rushed into the 
fight at Mondovi so furiously with his hussars 
that he was slain by a sabre-cut, fighting in the 
front line like a common soldier. 

The aged General Causse saved the battle at 
Dego, but fell mortally wounded. He called for 
Bonaparte and learned that the battle was won. 
The old general nodded to the young one, and died 
with the words : ' Long live the Republic.' 

When Napoleon lay dying at St. Helena, they 
heard him call out, just before the end : ' Steingel ! 
Desaix ! Massena ! On them ! We have them 
now.' He saw once more the forms of the generals 
of his young days. 

The brave and neatly-equipped Austrians, 
retreating from point to point in their white 
uniforms, and looking so handsome in their powder 
and pigtails, deserved a better fate. But their 
antiquated methods could not resist the new 
French ones, and they had too many leaders who 
were too aged for effective service. Beaulieu was 
eighty years old. Wurmser, who had beaten the 
republican forces at Weissenburg, Heidelberg, 


and in the Palatinate, was an old man ; so was 
Melas. Their best general was Alvinczy. In 
these stiff troops with their aged generals, swept 
out of the field by the fiery French armies, we 
see involuntarily something of the ridiculous, as 
generally happens when the older fall before the 
younger. At the same time there was a certain 
politeness maintained between the enemies, some- 
thing of the chivalry that always moderates the 
horrors of war, though in the new and terrible 
forms of warfare we see less of it every century. 
When the aged Wurmser was compelled at length 
by famine to surrender Mantua, Bonaparte, who 
was in command, sent the comparatively aged 
General Serrurier to receive the capitulation, so 
as to spare Wurmser the shame of giving up his 
sword to a young man of twenty-seven. 

Before the peace of Campo Formio, Bonaparte 
and Josephine held a sort of small court in the 
chateau of Montebello. From the moment when he 
first set foot on the soil of Austria his whole being 
instinctively assumed a character that made it 
plain that he had a far higher aim hi view than 
any other French general had ever had. His 
companions noticed with regret the departure 
from the easy ways that had hitherto prevailed in 
the armies of the Republic. 

The chateau of Montebello received ministers 
from Vienna and from the king of Naples, envoys 
from the papacy, the Republics of Genoa and 
Venice, the Duke of Parma, the Swiss cantons, 
and a number of German princes. The house 


almost looked like a royal residence. Apparently 
without any change in his manner the young 
Bonaparte took his place with his usual seriousness 
and coldness, and the whole of those present 
probably without noticing it fell into the position 
that was to be taken up for many years to come ; 
Napoleon alone in the centre and all the others 
in a circle round him. The finest diplomatists of 
Vienna came and tried their hand on him. There 
was nothing that he did not understand, not a 
manoeuvre that he did not see through, and 
certainly nothing under the sun that could daunt 

On the other hand not in anger, but quite 
coolly and deliberately, aiming to make an 
impression on the elderly diplomats he took up 
the costly Chinese tea-service that the envoy 
Cobentzl had received from Catherine II, and 
threw it on the ground. ' That's how I'll smash 
Austria,' he said, and swept out of the room like 
a hurricane. They hurried after him, and brought 
the treaty ready signed, just as he had wanted 
them to do. 

It was at this time he began to issue his 
grandiose proclamations to his soldiers. They 
are said to have had a considerable effect. For 
my part I have always found them too lengthy 
and affected, and I cannot endure the style of 

Bonaparte himself delivered the abstract of 
the peace of Campo Formio to the Directorate, 
and Paris gave him and Josephine a series of 


festivities. The finest was, of course, that given 
by Talleyrand, who was foreign minister of the 
Republic at the time. Art and science came to 
do him homage. David painted him, and the 
famous artist, Grassini, whom he had brought 
from Italy, sang before him. 

But France soon learned that there were 
30,000 men and 10,000 sailors gathered in the 
Mediterranean harbours, and that vast prepara- 
tions were in progress at Toulon. The best 
generals and a number of scholars were to take 
part in the mysterious campaign. It was the 
celebrated adventure in Egypt, of which, to be 
quite candid, I have never really understood the 
meaning. If it had succeeded, we might have 
seen how deadly a blow it would have been to 
England. As things were, it has remained quite 
obscure, in my opinion, and the campaign failed 

On June 9th, 1798, the French fleet lay before 
Malta. Five hundred vessels came in sight, and 
so terrified the Grand Master, that, after a few 
days negotiations and a few harmless cannon-shots, 
he surrendered the island to the French. What 
had happened was that the Grand Master of the 
Knights of Malta, a German named Hompesch, 
received 600,000 francs and the promise of a 
yearly pension of 300,000 francs. With that he 
retired into private life. The chief harbour of 
Malta, Valetta, had always been regarded as 
absolutely impregnable. When the French officers 
came on land after the capitulation and examined 


the fortifications, one of them said : ' It was 
lucky for us there were people in there to 
open it for us ; otherwise we should never have 
got in.' 

Bonaparte's rare good fortune went with him 
on his Mediterranean voyage and brought him 
safely home from Egypt. Nelson crossed his 
track below Malta. He was three days in 
Alexandria before the French fleet arrived, and 
then he had put to sea again in search of Bonaparte. 
Hence the French army landed in safety, and the 
struggle began. After Napoleon's entry into 
Cairo on July 25th, he met his first mishap, the 
first and most decisive blow to his expedition. 
He heard that the French fleet was destroyed on 
August 1st in the Bay of Aboukir. Nelson had 
found them at last, and though the French 
admiral was brave and made a good fight, the fate 
of any fleet was sealed when it met Nelson, as 
surely as the fate of an army that encountered 
Bonaparte. It was the weakest point in the 
whole plan to suppose that a French fleet could 
hold its own in the Mediterranean as long as 
Nelson was about. 

After the expedition into Syria and the 
failure of the storming of St. Jean d' Acre, Napoleon 
received the journals from home at Cairo, and 
decided to return to France. He left behind him 
a letter to General Kleber, in which he put him in 
supreme command of the army in Egypt with a 
mass of instructions. Then he rode down to the 
coast secretly with a chosen few. They embarked 


on two frigates, and by some means or other 
reached Frejus, in the south of France, on October 
9th, 1799, without meeting a single one of Nelson's 
ships, which were scouring the Mediterranean and 
descending on everything that passed. 

The Egyptian campaign has a certain 
resemblance, on a much smaller scale, to the 
Russian campaign of 1812. Both of them failed, 
and this was partly due to the same lack of 
knowledge of the land, the people, and the climate. 
From both the leader returned home, and left his 
followers in distress. It was not surprising, 
therefore, that officers and soldiers thought, when 
they heard of the general's return, that he had 
shamefully betrayed them, and left them in the 
Egyptian desert ; just as, on the morning of 
December 5th, 1812, the Emperor's generals 
murmured against him, when it was known that 
he had departed for France during the night, 
abandoning what remained of the grand army to 
the cold and the Cossacks. 

The qualities and sentiments of solidarity and 
concern that engender in the good citizen the 
mutual feeling that sustains domestic and public 
life were quite foreign to Bonaparte's nature. He 
assuredly never made any personal sacrifice for 
others or for the common good. What he gave 
never had the character of a sacrifice, but came 
of the splendid generosity that distinguishes the 
lofty prince. Had anyone expected him to remain 
on the wreck when things had gone wrong, he 
would have called it the stupid notion of an idealist. 


He never had any other scheme of action than 
completely to realise his aim ; and this was so 
great that he had no time to think of others. 

The campaign in Egypt was not lit by the 
sunshine of Italy. The heated air, the thirst, and 
the plague, followed it everywhere ; and the 
shadow of such deeds as the massacre at Jaffa, 
where he had several thousand prisoners of war 
shot because there was no food for them, and of 
the charge of having given opium to a large 
number of pest-stricken French soldiers, so that 
they might not fall alive into the hand of the 
enemy when the army left Syria, was cast over 
the figure of the young general. 

However, in the famous battle of the pyramids 
and in the land-battle at Aboukir, a fresh splendour 
was added to the names of many of Napoleon's 
greatest generals Junot, Rapp, Lannes, Davoust, 
and especially K16ber and Desaix, who remained 
in Egypt, K16ber was a brave general, and a 
big, handsome man. He soon concluded that 
Napoleon's large and vague plan of holding and 
colonising Egypt could not be realised, and he 
opened negotiations with the English admiral. 
In these he succeeded in securing a free passage 
home for the French, but the English government 
insisted that the French troops should be con- 
sidered prisoners of war. Kleber would not agree 
to this, and he re-conquered the whole of Egypt. 
Meantime General Desaix had, almost from the 
beginning of the expedition, penetrated to upper 
Egypt, where he had not only conquered the 


whole country with great heroism, but had 
conducted the administration so skilfully as to 
win the affection of the half-savage inhabitants, 
who called him 'the wise Sultan.' They called 
Bonaparte ' the lord of fire.' 

On July 14th, 1800, Kleber was assassinated 
on the streets of Cairo by an Arabian fanatic, and 
Desaix was killed at the same time by a cannon 
ball on the plain of Marengo, where he just 
arrived in time to secure the victory of Napoleon. 
General Menou was appointed to the chief 
command in Egypt, but he was still less able to 
hold together the impossible colony, constantly 
assailed as it was by the English. Menou was 
in his fiftieth year, and therefore one of the oldest 
of Napoleon's generals. He quarrelled with his 
officers, and made himself ridiculous in the eyes 
of the army by wearing the dress of an Arab. 
He married a young Egyptian and lived on 
oriental lines. Napoleon always treated him well, 
and he died as governor of Venice in 1810, it is 
said, out of love of a young actress. In his 
hands the Egyptian expedition came to a disastrous 
close, and the last of the French troops were 
brought home in English ships, though not as 
prisoners of war. 

During the year of Bonaparte's absence in 
Egypt, the French Republic and the French arms 
met with serious reverses. He learned this from 
the journals that the English allowed to reach 
him in Egypt. No sooner did he land on French 
soil than the cry went up that he alone could 


save the country, and he was hailed everywhere 
as the deliverer. His unfortunate expedition 
was at once forgotten. The moment he landed 
he was met with every sign of rejoicing, and the 
feeling ran to enthusiastic heights as he made 
his way from town to town, making a triumphal 
march of his journey to Paris. He vigorously 
thrust out of sight the failure of his late campaign, 
and made even larger plans than when he had 
returned from the subjugation of Italy. But the 
young and suspicious general was not yet the 
man to be led away by illusions. At Paris, 
where the whole world sought him, he maintained 
a great reserve. He hardly showed himself at 
the magnificent official festivities or in the theatres. 
But he worked and intrigued secretly against 
the constitution of the country with no scruple, 
and firmly determined to introduce into politics 
the strongest element of the time the army, 
which in turn meant himself. 

The first person to be associated with him 
in his secret work was, of course, Citizen Talleyrand, 
who was not a minister at the time. He was 
quite ready to put himself at the disposal of the 
new rising force. In 1799 the Republican 
government consisted of five Directors, who were 
held in no esteem, and of the Legislative Assembly. 
Bonaparte did not want a revolution, but a 
coup d'etat, without conflict or bloodshed. The 
Legislative Assembly was sent out to St. Cloud, 
far away from Paris, and Bonaparte coolly 
determined to dissolve it by force, and substitute 


for it other forms that would prepare the way 
for him. 

His assistants and fellow-conspirators were a 
number of men that had gathered about him, 
and were to be the first generals and statesmen 
in Europe. Up to that time they had been 
merely young officers, and they took up the 
political manoeuvre, at the general's order, much 
as they would have done a cavalry attack. Chief 
amongst them were his near relative Murat, 
Leclerc (who was married to Pauline), Sebastiani 
of Corsica, Lannes, Berthier, and Moreau. Berna- 
dotte held back, and only made his appear- 
ance when the manoeuvre had succeeded. Lucien, 
the President of the Council ofjthe Five Hundred, 
made himself very useful ; it was the only help 
Napoleon ever got from one of his brothers. 

Early in the morning of November 9th, 1799 
the famous * 18|Brumaire ' according to the 
Republican calendar the troops began to stir in 
the barracks. General Lefebvre, in chief command 
at Paris, at once scented a conspiracy. He 
drove down to make an inquiry, met Colonel 
Sebastiani, and asked him sharply what he was 
doing at that hour with his men. * General 
Bonaparte wants to speak to you,' Sebastiani 
answered. The street was so narrow that 
Lefebvre's carriage could not turn round, and so 
he went on to Bonaparte's hotel. The general 
met him with the words : ' You are one of the 
props of the Republic, General Lefebvre ! You 
and I will to-day deliver France from the hands 
of these miserable lawyers.' 


' Down with the lawyers,' Lefebvre replied. 
* I am with you.' And he forthwith allied himself 
to Napoleon. 

When Bonaparte entered the chamber of the 
Five Hundred he was greeted with a loud outcry 
about tyrants. The members crowded about 
him with violent gestures, and the grenadiers 
began to be concerned for their little corporal. 
Murat then ordered the room to be cleared, and 
it was done so quickly that many of the delegates 
of the people had to leap out of the windows. 
They were meeting in the orangery, so that the 
leap was not very dangerous ; but it was an act 
of political violence that many never forgave 

In the first ministry that Napoleon formed 
as First Consul there were three Consuls, but no 
one took any notice of the other two Talleyrand 
was to be Foreign Minister, though the place was 
held for a time by a German, Count Reinhardt, 
who was often used by Napoleon in administrative 
and diplomatic capacities. The Minister of Police 
was Fouche, whom Napoleon seemed never able 
to dispense with, though he saw through his 
knavery and often had experience of his duplicity 
afterwards. In spite of the resemblance it would 
be most unjust to put Talleyrand and Fouche on 
the same footing. Talleyrand was like the 
finest kid, while Fouche was common fox-skin. 
Talleyrand passed with some subtlety from one 
party to another, but Fouch6 sold and betrayed 
one to the other, and lived on and for deceit, 


hated and despised by all. Napoleon deposed and 
re-instated him ; he made him Duke of Otranto, 
and was often in a rage with him ; but he could 
not live without the network of spies that Fouche 
could best spread about him. Indeed, there was 
no one else that he could use so readily for the 
meanest offices. 

In the four years of the Consulate, which 
were certainly the happiest years of Bonaparte's 
life, France recovered from the effects of the 
Revolution. The unquenchable vigour with 
which the nation always rises again when the 
storm is over brought out a new and energetic 
society ; and certain forces at once became 
active in it that centred about the person of the 
one great man, under the very mantle of the new 
found liberty, and raised him high above the 
citizens of the Republic. And his immense plans 
developed and found embodiment with a gigantic 
power that created afresh everything that it 
touched. In these mighty hands France was 
transformed immediately. The First Consul 
betook himself to the palace of the older kings, 
and the citizens were subdued. When he passed 
from the Luxembourg palace to the Tuileries and 
the Louvre on the other bank of the Seine, it was 
with all the pomp of a royal ceremony. The 
familiar tone of the Revolution disappeared in a 
few days. The republican forms of social life 
were chilled in the cold court atmosphere that at 
once began to fill the halls of the Tuileries. People 
ceased to call each other citizen and citizeness, 


and began to cut their hair and wear decorative 
costumes. No change ever proceeded so rapidly 
as this. 

The Republic was recognised by all the 
European powers except England. Peace reigned 
in some sort, and it only remained to conciliate 
England. Bonaparte, who then and throughout 
his whole career was far from understanding 
England and English ways, wrote a personal letter 
to George the Third, in which he suggested a 
rapprochement between the two great nations. 
The answer came, drily enough, in the form of a 
declaration made by Pitt in Parliament : ' England 
will not subscribe to the peace until France has 
returned within its earlier frontiers.' It clung 
rigorously to this determination never to treat 
with Napoleon under any circumstances. This 
meant that there was to be war in Europe as long 
as Napoleon retained power. 

In France there was great rejoicing at the 
termination of the terrors of the Revolution. 
Many of the emigrants returned, prisoners were 
set at liberty, and the sentence of banishment 
was annulled. Social and commercial life received 
an unprecedented * impulse under the wise legis- 
lation and practical aids that were now given. 

England was the first to feel the fire of war 
that Bonaparte set aflame. Every time that a 
country was beaten, England came to it with 
fresh money and fresh proposals for a coalition. 
The first coalition was originally an alliance 
of Austria, Bavaria, Turkey, Russia, Sweden, 


Denmark, and England, the latter Power main- 
taining fleets both in the North Sea and the 
Mediterranean for the attack on France. But the 
First Consul found a means of drawing Russia 
out of the coalition. Since the wars of the 
Republic there were a number of Russian prisoners 
in France and in the frontier fortresses. Napoleon 
equipped them all with Russian uniforms, choosing 
the correct uniforms and ensigns according to 
the rank and regiment and arm of each prisoner. 
Then he sent the whole of them many hundreds 
in number comfortably back to Russia with a 
greeting to the Emperor, Paul I, without saying 
a word about the return of French prisoners of 
war. This was, perhaps, the only occasion on which 
Napoleon's calculation was correct when he tried 
to treat the other European princes as comrades. 
The half-demented Paul was caught by the 
stratagem, and became a fanatical admirer of 
Napoleon. He recalled his troops from Germany, 
left the coalition, and expelled all Englishmen 
from St. Petersburg. The First Consul also sent 
his friend and confidant, Duroc, afterwards Duke 
of Friaul, as envoy to Berlin, and in a very brief 
time he succeeded in embroiling the coalition to 
such an extent that he could himself lead his 
troops across the Alps to the liberation of Italy, 
which had been taken again by the Austrians 
while he was in Egypt. 

Austria, if not the whole of Europe, was 
astounded when Bonaparte's generals crossed the 
Alps with all their artillery and baggage, and 


marched down upon the plains in the north of 
Italy. He himself stood before the gates of Milan 
on June 2nd (1800) as Italy's deliverer. The 
Italians were beside themselves with joy at seeing 
him once more ; he was reported to have died 
in Egypt. The second Italian campaign thus 
succeeded more brilliantly than the first. The 
same sun shone on the French troops ; but they 
were now the finest soldiers that Europe had ever 
seen, not the ragged and shoeless bands of the 

At the beginning of a campaign, Napoleon, espe- 
cially in his earlier and more slender years, used to 
spread his maps on the ground, and crawl over 
them, and work his plans with coloured needles. 
The friend of his youth, Bourrienne, who was his 
private secretary in the early years, has related 
that. Napoleon had fixed his needles round the 
plains of Marengo before he left Paris, and said 
that he would fight the Austrians there. With 
the divisions of Lannes, Victor, and Desaix, he 
marched on the village of Marengo on July 13th 
in search of the chief Austrian army under General 
Melas. He had, however, commanded Desaix 
to take a different route on the following day, as 
he was uncertain where he would find the enemy. 
Early the next morning, the famous July 14th, 
1800, Bonaparte suddenly confronted the far 
superior numbers of the Austrian army, and the 
battle began at once. He sent most pressing 
messages to Desaix, but he knew that it would 
be several hours before Desaix's division could 
join him in the conflict. 


The battle began with the taking of the 
village of Marengo by the Austrians and the 
scattering of Victor's division. Bonaparte, who 
knew well that the issue depended on Desaix's 
arrival, made strenuous efforts to hold his ground 
to some extent with the left wing ; the right 
wing and the centre retreated during the whole 
morning, and were driven from one position 
to another by the more numerous Austrians. 
Napoleon followed them, and when the corps that 
he was with had retired some distance, ho halted 
and cried to the general of the division : ' That 
will do, general. Now we'll fight again for a 
little.' x 

Thus matters went on until three in the 
afternoon, and everybody but Bonaparte looked 
upon the fight as hopelessly lost. The aged 
Melas, overcome with fatigue, and injured by a 
fall from his horse, was now so sure of victory 
that he left the field, and went back across the 
Bormida. He at once sent couriers from Allessan- 
dria to Vienna to say that he had gained a decisive 
victory at Marengo. He left it to General Zack 
to follow up the defeated Bonaparte. It was 
now five o'clock. Bonaparte did not give up 
hope. He led the retreat, and kept his fine 
troops together so well that the retreat nowhere 
degenerated into flight. 

At last Desaix galloped up with several 
adjutants. He had just returned from Egypt, 
and hurried with all speed to his friend Bonaparte. 
They were the best leaders at the time, in the 


eyes of the troops. He hod impatiently ridden 
ahead of his troops when he reached the field, 
and he and Bonaparte were soon agreed that as 
matters stood, the battle was lost. ' Let us get 
down from our horses,' Desaix said to him, ' and 
it will look as if we were more confident.' They 
did so, and together watched the battle they were 
conducting, and that meant so much for their 
country. The two men were still almost at 
the age when we are usually taken up with 
examinations, and shivering before dry and dusty 
professors. It is said that Desaix remarked : 
' The balls don't know me since I have been in 
Egypt.' French officers had a peculiar way of 
speaking when they were confronted with death, 
or their own presentiments of it. Desaix's words 
were regarded by everybody as a proof that he 
himself felt his impending fate. At length the 
first troops of Desaix's division swept on to the 
plain. The two generals shook hands and mounted 
their horses. Half an hour afterwards a cannon 
ball shattered Desaix's breast and killed him on 
the spot. 

The first troops of Desaix's corps to reach 
Marengo and avenge his death belonged to General 
Boudet's division. In all the great battles, and 
whenever an important move is on, we find 
mention of this division. General Boudet was 
born in 1769, and had taken Guadeloupe in 1794. 
In 1807 he defeated the Swedes at Stralsund, and 
was made a count. He received large donations 
of land in Swedish Pomerania, and was besides 


Knight of the Danebrog, and received the Cross 
of the Legion of Honour. His men, especially 
his artillery, were models for the whole army. 

These chosen troops came up at the last 
moment and put spirit into the half-demolished 
army. All weariness was forgotten, and confidence 
was restored in the little man on the white horse 
whom they had seen in a kind of flight all day 
long. He cried out to the ranks as they closed 
once more and pressed forward : ' Remember, 
soldiers, that I am accustomed to sleep on the 
field of battle !' General Zack had opposed 
Boudet with 5,000 good grenadiers. But, just at 
the right moment, General Kellermann flung his 
cavalry on the Austrian grenadiers, who were 
thrown into confusion and generally taken 
prisoners. From that point the French on the 
left wing advanced, and the plain was re-taken 
before evening. The general was able to sleep in 
the village of Marengo, from which he had been 
driven in the early hours of the morning. In the 
course of the night Berthier concluded an 
arrangement with Melas, by which all that the 
French had lost in Italy was restored. 

During the last hundred years it has often 
been said and written that it was Desaix and 
Kellermann who won the battle of Marengo. In 
my opinion the general in command can only gain 
a victory when his officers obey his orders, keep 
their places, and do their duty at the proper time. 
One man can do no more once the battle has begun. 
Bonaparte won at Marengo because Desaix and 


Kellermann did their duty according to his 
calculations ; he lost the battle of Waterloo 
because Grouchy did not do his duty, and was 
not where he ought to have been according to the 
calculation of the chief commander. 

There were two General Kellermanns father 
and son with Napoleon. The elder was born in 
1733 at Baden, and lived until 1820. While he 
was a republican general he won the artillery 
battle at Valmy. Napoleon made him marshal 
and Duke of Valmy, and often employed him as 
commander in the fortresses where the young 
troops were trained. His son, Count of Valmy, 
was made a general after Marengo. In later years 
he generally fought against the English in Spain 
and Portugal. 

It is difficult to realise the immense effect of 
the battle of Marengo. The success was so 
unexpected and so great that all ranks of society 
and all parties joined in the common rejoicings. 
Paris was at once illuminated when the news 
arrived, and from that day practically the 
whole of the government, indeed the whole of 
France and its destiny, was given into the hand 
of Napoleon. The banished king wrote the 
following letter to him : 

' You will have known for a long time, general, 
in what esteem I hold you. Should you doubt 
my gratitude, I beg yougto let me know what 
position you desire to have, and where you desire 
your friends to be placed in the State. As to my 
principles, I am a Frenchman. I am by nature 


indulgent, and will be more so where prudence 
dictates that quality. The victor of Lodi, Castig- 
lione, and Arcole, and the restorer of Italy, cannot 
possibly prefer empty fame to true honour. 
Meantime, you are wasting valuable time. We 
two could secure the prosperity of France. I say, 
we two, because I need Bonaparte, and because 
he cannot do this without me. General, the eyes 
of Europe are upon you. Honour is waiting, and 
I am impatient to restore peace to my country. 

Bonaparte's reply was dry and direct. 

4 SIB I have received your letter and thank 
you for the gracious words you write of me. But 
you must not think of returning to France. You 
would have to walk over hundreds of thousands 
of corpses. If you will make the sacrifice of your 
own interests for the peace and prosperity of 
France, history will thank you. I am not 
insensitive to the misfortunes of your family, and 
I will gladly contribute to your tranquillity and 
security in the refuge that you have chosen. 


The almost naive assumption of superiority 
must have made a great impression on the 
Bourbons, who had stooped so low in a moment 
of weakness. Bonaparte himself, indeed, was 
hardly conscious what an impression of audacity 
his letter would give to people whose real attitude 
toward himself he never completely understood. 
But in the shadow of the shattered kingdom, and 
of the republic that had collapsed so quickly, 


there were figures that united in a common hatred 
of the man a determination to rid the world of 
tyrants. A number of conspiracies were discovered 
from time to time, in which older men of the 
revolutionary days, and others that belonged to 
the king's party, were involved. Some tried to 
penetrate into Malmaison in assumed uniforms ; 
others attempted to kill him as he went to the 
opera. A few dangerous workers had begun to 
prepare a bomb, but when they came to test the 
explosive, the effect was so powerful that they 
became half afraid, and the noise attracted the 
attention of the police. 

However, before the close of the year 1800, 
one of these murderous plans was put into exe- 
cution and made a great impression on Paris. It 
was due to a conspiracy of some of the royalists, 
who had, with extreme calculation and cold- 
bloodedness, formed a plan that was only thwarted 
by an accident. 

On Christmas night Bonaparte and Josephine 
were to hear Haydn's ' Creation ' at the Opera. 
It was a special performance and the whole of 
Paris was expected to be there. Shortly before 
seven a couple of the conspirators, dressed as 
working men, came along with a hand-cart, on 
which there was a vessel filled with powder and 
balls. They left the cart casually, as it were, in 
a street that the carriage of the First Consul 
had to pass. The time was accurately calculated, 
and the fuse lit. Everybody knew that Napoleon 
was punctual. But it happened that his coachman 


was rather drunk that evening. He raced 
furiously down the street, and was past the 
infernal machine two or three seconds before it 
exploded. Fifty-six men were wounded and 
twenty - two killed, and several houses were 
demolished. In the opera-house people had just 
begun to whisper of an attempt on the First 
Consul's life, when he stepped coolly into his box, 
and there was an indescribable outburst. His 
wonderful luck made him seem miraculous. He 
was the chosen one of Providence in the eyes of 
many, and the attempt on his life lifted him to 
a higher pinnacle. 

But, though he had shown his customary 
coolness during the catastrophe, he afterwards 
had a very close inquiry made into the source of 
the outrage, which clearly was no isolated crime. 
Fouch6, either to conceal his ignorance of the 
plot, or out of a grudge against his old enemies, 
gave him the same night a list of 130 revolu- 
tionaries. Napoleon's feeling was directed rather 
against the royalists, but he had these 130 
individuals sent to Cayenne, after forcing through 
a law that empowered the Consuls to banish 
undesirable persons. 

On February 12th, 1801, Paris heard of the 
Peace of Luneville, which was the fruit of Marengo 
and of Moreau's equally brilliant victory at 
Hohenlinden. The frontiers of France were 
extended, and all its enemies humiliated. Thou- 
sands of people passed by the Tuileries, crying : 
' Long live Bonaparte.' They danced in the 


streets, and the First Consul's orchestra played 
dance-music to the accompaniment of musketry 
and rockets. Once more the most splendid fte 
was that given by Talleyrand, Minister of Foreign 
Affairs. At his house the First Consul received 
all the distinguished people French or foreign 
who were then at Paris. The older royalty and 
the Revolution, nobles and republicans, new men 
of fortune, soldiers, scholars, poets, artists, and 
officials all came together and paid homage for 
the first time to Napoleon Bonaparte as France's 
first citizen and the head of the State. 

All who have read the memoirs of the period 
are familiar with the odour of summer-roses that 
clings to Malmaison. In later years, when the 
great French chateaux were re-opened, there was 
more pomp and brilliance, but they never eclipsed 
the fairy days at Malmaison, with the court that 
was merely a troop of fine young ladies and 
gentlemen on a pic-nic. The First Consul, who 
was the centre of it all, was no longer the spare, 
dark general with the yellow Italian tint. His 
whole appearance was changed. When he was a 
young officer he suffered severely from a disease 
of the skin, a sort of vicious scab. He contracted 
it first on his hands in the trenches before Toulon, 
where he took part himself in loading and serving 
the guns, It spread over his whole body and 
became a great plague to him. He was not then 
in a position to command the best attendance or 
to give sufficient time for a radical treatment of 
the ailment. When he had eventually got rid 


of it, his skin assumed the marble whiteness that 
characterised his family, and he paid great 
attention to the care of it. He often spoke about 
the treatment of it. First he would lie for hours 
in water heated to such a degree that others could 
hardly put a foot in it. He also had himself 
washed with eau de Cologne, of which he used 
enormous quantities. His whole body was then 
well rubbed, and his servants put on his under- 
clothing, and the narrow white trousers, all of 
the finest material and spotlessly clean. His 
uniform was always the blue or green coat of the 
body-guard with red facings, and afterwards 
court dress and the fantastic imperial clothes. 

He was now a handsome well-built man, with 
strong legs, small, firm feet, clear and clean-cut 
features, and the fine mouth of the Bonapartes, 
with faultless white teeth. That was his appearance 
when he took part in their games and ran races 
with Josephine and the other young women in 
the garden at Malmaison. But he did not like 
anyone to beat him in the race, and he was angry 
when he fell down and got grass-spots on his 
white hose. One had to be very serious then. 
The young men choked down their laughter, and 
did not know which way to turn, for he was a 
dangerous man. No one, not even Josephine, 
knew how far he would take a joke. He was 
always irritable from youth upward. I have 
never read anywhere of Napoleon laughing. It 
seems that he could not. It is said that a good- 
natured smile of his could heal wounds, and make 


the man it was bestowed on follow him through 
fire and water. But there was never a laugh, or 
an outburst of hilarity ; he had always the same 
marble coldness, with his lips firmly compressed, 
ready to issue the word of command or to frighten 
men to death with a voice that had no equal. 
His temper was always uncertain. 

The painter Isabey was light and agile, and 
full of jokes, like all the others. One morning 
he came through the empty rooms the company 
had gone to breakfast and saw in the conserva- 
tory a young man whom he took to be Lucien 
Bonaparte. Isabey quietly approached on tip-toe, 
then made a spring, and jumped full on him. 
When he turned round in triumph to face him 
he met the dreaded look of the First Consul. The 
little artist ran as fast as he could into the garden 
and then the forest, and it was a long time before 
he would venture out, and still longer before he 
dare tell anyone of his adventure. The First 
Consul went on as if nothing had happened. 

For my part I have never been in company 
with any great man, with the exception of 
Bjornstjerne Bjornson. He too has a look that 
can frighten people to death. When he opens his 
mouth, it is generally for the purpose of serious 
talk. But how he can laugh ! His laughter has 
a full resounding ring, as if it came from the 
depths of his heart. There are few things so 
pleasant as to hear Bjornson laugh. 

Napoleon certainly never indulged in laughter 
or in jovial intercourse over a glass or a good 


story. He ate so quickly that no one had enough, 
and the young officers were dismayed as he rose 
from table before the soup was finished at the 
lower end of it. He drank a couple of glasses 
of his red wine and a little brandy when on the 
field ; but I have never heard of him raising his 
glass to propose a health, and certainly the wine 
never reached his head in the smallest degree. 
Yet all are agreed that he had a most wonderful 
smile. One night they were sitting together at 
St. Helena, and talking of old days, as usual. 
In the course of the conversation, Las Cases 
remarked : ' I do not understand why Your 
Majesty did not take the sword of Frederic the 
Great, when you had it in your hand.' ' Because 
I had my own,' said the Emperor quietly, with 
his characteristic smile ; c and he pinched my 
ear, without hurting me,' says Las Cases. 

That was one of Napoleon's habits. When 
he was speaking to one of his generals or anybody 
that he liked, he would take hold of the lap of 
his ear, and pinch it more and more severely while 
he spoke. One needed to be very stolid to keep 
still during the ordeal. His fingers were not 
too gentle. 

He was destructive by character and custom. 
He stuck his paper-knife into the costly chairs 
that were provided for him everywhere. He 
wasted huge quantities of paper. Whenever he 
took up anything that was frail or finely worked, 
he was quite certain to demolish it or damage it 
before putting it down. He pulled up the 


choicest plants in the hot-houses, and, when he 
could do it without being seen, he used to shoot 
Josephine's rare birds. As a matter of fact, 
however, he was not a good shot, and he did very 
little when he was out shooting. But it was a 
kingly pastime, and the whole apparatus was at 
hand, and so he took his marshals for great 
hunts in the forests of Fontainebleau. They 
were soldiers and accustomed to hear the balls 
whizzing past their ears, and they shot right and 
left on chance, to the consternation of the real 
sportsmen and servants that were there. One 
day the Emperor shot out one of the eyes of 
Massena, the Duke of Rivoli, but nothing was said 
of it. Berthier took the blame for it, probably 
because he was master of the hunt. 

As long as they were at Malmaison the lively 
and amiable Josephine succeeded in dispelling 
the chill that always surrounded the Emperor in 
later years. There they lived like good and 
loving bourgeois, sleeping in the same room. They 
were together all the time that he was not engaged 
with business, though these intervals were brief 
enough. It is incredible what an amount of work 
he got through in those days. His lively sisters, 
the young wives of his generals, and the hand- 
somest officers in the army, played comedies and 
other performances, danced and made love to 
each other, without any serious consequences. 
Bonaparte himself had returned from Egypt with 
an unpleasant story about Josephine. The stupid 
Junot had told it to him in the trenches before 


Acre. But she brought him round ; he returned 
to the army, and all was forgiven and forgotten. 

The only one that was missed from the gay 
company was the charming Pauline, the youngest 
sister of the First Consul. She had accompanied 
her husband, General Leclerc, in the expedition 
to San Domingo in 1801. During the Revolution 
the blacks in the French colony of Hayti had 
freed themselves, and a negro called Toussaint 
TOuverture, had been put at the head of a sort 
of republic that the blacks had formed after the 
model at Paris. Bonaparte gave his brother-in- 
law a well-equipped expedition and fleet, and 
told him to restore order in the colony as peace- 
fully as possible. The expedition entirely failed. 
Unfortunately, Toussaint TOuverture had sailed 
for France the day that the fleet reached the 
island. He was a man of some ability. Leclerc, 
who could not even keep order amongst his own 
generals, met the wild negro-general Christopher, 
and the latter at once began an insurrection. 
The plague broke out. Leclerc himself died, and 
his successor, General Rochambeau, who after- 
wards fell at Leipsic, was a hard man, and allowed 
himself to be led by the French planters into 
waging a fearful war of extermination against 
the blacks. They were driven into the sea and 
drowned ; they were hunted with blood-hounds 
from Cuba. The expedition was a complete 
failure, and the colony was lost to France. 

Pauline, untouched by plague and other 
horrors, returned as a widow to Paris. She was 


more charming than ever, and ready to begin 
again where she had left off. 

During these years of comparative peace the 
First Consul was constantly occupied with plans 
against England, with which he was always at 
war. He collected enormous provisions of war 
by land and sea in the north of France, on the 
Channel, and especially at Boulogne. The 
Bourbons and emigrants at London were also 
working in their own way. They set afoot a 
fresh conspiracy which was to fall on the First 
Consul during one of his journeys to St. Cloud or 
Malmaison, overcome the body-guard riding by 
the carriage, and kill Bonaparte in the struggle. 
This seemed to them to be more like a fight than 
an assassination. They had put at the head of 
the conspiracy the old Vendean leader, Georges 
Cadoudal, the people of la Vendee being still 
distinguished by a fanatical loyalty to the royal 
house. Cadoudal had always wished to see one 
or two French princes at his side, and his idea 
was to re-call the Bourbons when Bonaparte 
should be got rid of. The army would be 
conciliated, and led to fresh achievements by 
General Moreau, who though he was far from 
royalist in disposition was understood to be 
willing to take part in the conspiracy, because he 
had been at variance with Napoleon for some 

General Moreau, who was born in 1761, had 
covered himself with glory under the Republic. 
His retreat from Holland, when Jourdan had been 


beaten as usual, was and still is regarded as a 
masterpiece of military art. In the eyes of all 
his contemporaries, especially since the death of 
Desaix, he was next to Napoleon. With a very 
short interval they won the two most brilliant 
victories : Bonaparte at Marengo in Italy, and 
Moreau at Hohenlinden in Germany. For a time 
it was reported that he was going to marry Pauline 
Leclerc, but he chose a certain Mile. Hulot, and 
from that day his and Napoleon's ways parted. 
The lady and her mother succeeded in inflaming 
him against Napoleon to such an extent that he 
made it his life-aim and his misfortune to destroy 
him and take his place. 

In order to win General Moreau, the 
conspirators had chosen his old comrade, General 
Pichegru. The latter, though an old republican, 
had accepted the Bourbon plan at London, and 
then went to Paris to kill the common enemy. 
The next step was to bring Moreau and Pichegru 
together, and induce Moreau, who shared 
Pichegru's hatred of Napoleon, to join the plot. 
In August, 1803, Cadoudal left London with a 
million francs in Bank of England notes, which 
he had sewn into his belt. He landed on the 
sand-hills of Biville from a smuggler, and was 
led from man to man, using certain signs agreed 
upon, as far as Paris, where be began to collect 
suitable men for the attack, and get them uniforms, 
horses, arms, and all that was necessary. Meantime 
others were endeavouring to bring Moreau and 
Pichegru together. Moreau spoke with great 


warmth of his old comrade, and offered to do all 
in his power to procure the reversal of the sentence 
that had banished Pichegru to Cayenne in 1797. 
It is possible that he also expressed himself 
somewhat sharply about Napoleon. 

This was taken by the intermediary, a 
General Lajolais, as a safe indication that Moreau 
was ready to join the conspiracy. He hastened 
to London, via Hamburg, and gave such an 
account of Moreau' s bitterness against Napoleon 
that the emigrants were beside themselves with 
joy, and even the Count Artois, who was after- 
wards King Charles X, compromised himself for 
life by taking part in meetings where the murder 
of the head of a State was decided. Toward the 
close of 1804, Pichegru, with several of the highest 
French nobles, including the brothers Polignac, 
crossed the Channel in Captain Wright's yacht, 
and reached Paris. A little later Lajolais brought 
about a meeting between Moreau and Pichegru. 
It took place during the night in the deserted 
Boulevard Madeleine. The two old friends were 
deeply moved at seeing each other in such 
circumstances, when Georges Cadoudal suddenly 
stepped out and joined in the conversation. 
Moreau at once became as cold as ice. At 
subsequent meetings it became clearer and clearer 
that Moreau was quite willing to work for himself, 
but by no means for the Bourbons. It was a 
serious disillusion, and was so discouraging to the 
rest of those who were in the plot, that many 
of them thought of giving up the whole enterprise 
and leaving Paris. 


Just at that moment the arrests began. 
Fouche was not Minister of Police at that time, 
but he was prying round everywhere on his own 
account. R6al, an officer that Napoleon often 
used, was at the head of the Paris police, but he 
knew nothing of the conspiracy. It was really the 
First Consul himself who picked up the first 
threads. Even while he was Consul, and still 
more when he became Emperor, Napoleon's time 
was largely occupied in reading all kinds of police 
reports and making himself familiar with the 
statements of spies that were put before him 
every day. At the very time when the royalist 
murder was being plotted, he was making a fool 
of the English envoy at Munich. He knew that 
the man had offered 50,000 for the black 
portefeuille in Bonaparte's private room, and so 
he read more carefully than ever the mass of 
reports on suspicious persons, and the lists of 
foreign and native individuals who had disappeared 
or turned up. From the large number of these he 
chose the names of five men who were to be sub- 
mitted to judicial inquiry. 

It was evident that he had a keen eye for 
this kind of work. Only two out of the five 
turned out innocent, and were set at liberty. Two 
of them were convicted of high treason and shot, 
without any information being got out of them. 
The fifth confessed that he was one of Georges 
Cadoudal's men, and had come with him from 
England over the sand-hills of Biville. At the 
same time, after a nocturnal struggle between 


custom-officers and smugglers at the coast, a 
piece of cartridge-paper was picked up with the 
name Troche written on it. It was found that 
this was the name of the young man who was 
leader of the conspirators that had come with 
the smugglers from London and secretly made 
their way to Paris. These were the first threads 
of the plot. 

The next thing to be discovered was that 
General Moreau was involved in the affair. He 
was at once arrested, and gradually forty-five of 
the conspirators were landed in the various jails, 
but the leaders were still at liberty. When 
Moreau was arrested, the cry was raised imme- 
diately that Napoleon was trying to get rid 
of his one rival in this pitiable fashion. Moreau 
stood so high in the esteem of the army and the 
nation that he could not be conceived as helping 
the royalists and those who were considered 
guilty. Bonaparte's temper broke loose, and was 
turned furiously on the royalists, from whom he 
thought he had deserved better treatment. From 
that time he spared no means of discovering the 
leaders, so that the whole world shouldlknow the 
plot to be a dangerous royalist conspiracy against 
the first man in France. The prisoners insisted 
that they had been acting with some of the most 
distinguished names in France, and that a prince 
of the blood they thought it was the Due de 
Berry was to come to Paris, if he was not 
already there. 


6 1 will forgive Moreau,' said Bonaparte, 
4 but I will shoot the first Bourbon that falls into 
my hands.' 

He sent the judge Reynier to Moreau in 
prison, to extract a confession, and, so it was 
proposed, bring the general to the Tuileries. But 
the official conducted the business with so little 
tact that Moreau did not realise the good intention. 
Not knowing that the greater part had already 
been betrayed by the others, he denied everything, 
and made use of all kinds of foolish subterfuges. 

' Very well,' said Bonaparte, ' he shall be 
put on trial.' 

They still failed to discover Pichegru and 
Cadoudal and the other leaders in Paris, and an 
extraordinary law was passed that threatened 
with death all who were concerned in hiding them ; 
those who knew it and did not give information 
would have six years in the galleys. Pichegru 
moved, as he did not like the company he had 
fallen into. He spent one night at the house 
of the minister Marbois, with whom he had 
been banished before. Napoleon appreciated the 
friendly act so far as to spare the minister, when 
he heard of it afterwards. At last someone was 
found who would betray Pichegru for 100,000 
francs. He gave them the key of the rooms 
where he had himself conducted the general. The 
police entered the rooms at night, and seized the 
pistols that lay by the bed ; though the powerful 
general fought them in his shirt before they 
could bind him and take him to prison. 


They afterwards took the brothers Polignac, 
Riviere, and finally CadoudaL He was caught in 
a small carriage on one of the outer boulevards 
by two policemen. He shot one dead and 
wounded the other, but the people prevented him 
from escaping. Cadoudal made no secret of his 
object in Paris, and was shot without asking any 
consideration. As Cadoudal and the Polignacs 
were now arrested, the matter got abroad, and 
people learned with astonishment that the royal 
family itself was privy to the plot to murder the 
deliverer of France. Unhappily, Napoleon was 
so much embittered that he would not rest until 
he had found traces of the Bourbons. He was 
ready even to pardon Pichegru, and send him as 
governor to Cayenne, to organise the colony 
there ; but for the royal party there was to be 
no mercy. 

One day he went through the Bourbon family 
with Talleyrand and Fouche, and when he heard 
of the Due d'Enghien, whose name was scarcely 
known to him, he set his spies to work at once. 
He was soon informed that the young prince lived 
close to the French frontier nearer than any of 
the other emigrants at Ettenheim, in Baden, 
that he was often absent for days together, and 
that he received suspicious visitors. One of these 
was falsely said to be Dumouriez, one of the 
republican generals who had fled to England to 
escape a charge of high treason. It agreed only 
too well with all that the prisoners had stated 
that in their gatherings a distinguished young 


person appeared at times, and was treated with 
exceptional respect by the others. The First 
Consul firmly believed that he had now found 
the last link in the plot. He sent General Ordener 
across the frontier to arrest the duke at Ettenheim, 
and at the same time sent his best envoy, Count 
Caulaincourt, to the Baden court to excuse the 
infringement of territorial limits. He was 
occupied for a whole week with the affair, and he 
worked himself to such a pitch of excitement that 
no power in the world could restrain him. The 
unfortunate young duke, who was certainly 
innocent, was arrested in bed, brought to Paris, 
and was, after a very slight legal procedure, shot 
at Vincennes in the early morning. 

The incident caused a stir in contemporary 
life that we can hardly appreciate. The unjust 
and hasty deed is one of the worst that Napoleon 
Bonaparte ever committed. It forms the refrain 
to all the vituperative songs of his enemies. We 
have to remember what a prince of the blood 
meant at that time ; this one was the last of the 
house of Conde, which was closely related to the 
Bourbons. He belonged to the highest rank of 
European nobility. Moreover, Europe had already 
begun to speak of the Corsican monster, the 
bloody tyrant, etc., and was anxious to find 
some ground for this hatred. 

Paris seemed to be shaken by a thunder-bolt. 
Nothing like it had been known since the 
Revolution, if even then. It had all taken place 
so quickly that at first people only knew that 


an emigrant prince had been violently seized on 
foreign territory, and passed before a court- 
martial with hardly any investigation. Although 
more than a third of the Parisians were ignorant 
who the Due d'Enghien was, all were horrified 
at this nocturnal trial without a jury coming, 
as it did, after the questionable treatment of the 
conspirators. Malmaison was intensely excited. 
Mme. Re* musat and the other ladies were paralysed 
with horror. Josephine threw herself sobbing on 
her husband's neck, crying : * Listen to me, 
Bonaparte ! If you have your prisoner shot, you 
will be guillotined yourself like my first husband ; 
and this time you will take me with you.' 

Fouch6 was pleased in his sombre way. 
* That was fortunate,' he said. * I began to fear 
that this little Bonaparte would be content to 
play the part of General Monk.' Bernadotte was 
of much the same opinion. He rubbed his hands, 
and said : ' We have him now ! ' He meant 
that the First Consul had played his stakes too 
high, and it might be his ruin. Talleyrand 
expended his wit over it : ' It's worse than a 
crime ; it's a blunder.' The affected Lucien 
Bonaparte rushed into his wife's bedroom with 
the cry : * Alexandrine, let us fly ! He has tasted 
blood.' He posed as a noble republican, and so 
his brother was a blood-thirsty tyrant. 

It would be impossible to form a more unjust 
estimate of Napoleon than that of his brother 
Lucien. He was neither cruel nor blood-thirsty. 
He did the sanguinary work of a soldier, in which 


he was a master, but he was devoid of the cruelty 
that characterised nearly all the other great 
soldiers with whose glory our children's lessons 
are poisoned. If in this case he made a violent 
end of an enemy, it was a sort of family revenge. 
The other Bourbons had sent men to murder 
him, and surrounded him with bravoes in his own 
country, though their machinations had happened 
to fail through a series of accidents. 

As to the young man who became the victim, 
he belonged to a race whose degeneration is 
obvious to us to-day. The great military genius 
that had once been found in the family in the 
great Cond6 had assumed a different shape. 
Insanity and suicide entered into the blood. One 
of the duke's ancestors at the siege of Belgrade 
shot sentinels and others who appeared on the 
walls from safe cover ; and when he settled down 
at Paris, Louis XIV had to pardon him three 
times for shooting from his palace windows at 
slaters and other workmen on neighbouring roofs, 
merely for the entertainment of seeing them fall 
into the street below. Certainly, there is nothing 
of that kind against the Due d'Enghien. But he 
was still young when he was killed. 

Napoleon defended the deed to the last 
moment on the ground that it was necessary for 
the security of the State. He took the whole 
responsibility on himself, and he says in his will 
that he would act in the same way again in the 
same circumstances. However, that may be, it 
gave a wholesome fright to the royalists and the 


royal house. The conspiracy and all that went 
with it soon engendered in the people a feeling 
that demanded the empire and an hereditary 
dynasty as the sole means of assuring the future 
of the country. 


In May, 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte was 
chosen Emperor of the French by the representa- 
tives of the people, and his family were declared 
to have an hereditary right to the throne. 

The first thing to which he devoted his 
attention as Emperor was the army. He gave 
grateful distinction both to the older generals 
whom he had found in office at the time of his 
own rise, and to the younger men who had grown 
to be a power in France and a terror to Europe 
under his own supervision. With great pomp he 
elevated eighteen generals to the rank of marshals 
of the empire, and made them generous awards 
of land and money. There were a few amongst 
the older generals whose merits were slight in 
comparison with those of the younger men. But 
it was his intention, and a fine stroke of policy, 
to bring together the old and the new, so that 
the adventurous character of his own rise might 
not be too apparent. The six older men were : 


Perrignon, Serrurier, Brune, Jourdan, Kellermann, 
and Lefebvre, as well as Augereau, Soult, and 
Massena. The new men were : Bessieres, Davoust, 
Moncey, Mortier, Ney, Lannes, Bernadotte, 
Berthier, and Murat. Most of these afterwards 
became dukes and princes, with titles taken from 
the battles they won. Kleber and Desaix, who 
were more worthy of the marshal's staff than any 
of the others, had fallen. 

He then pardoned most of those who had 
been implicated in the conspiracy. Only Cadoudal 
and twelve others were shot. General Pichegru 
strangled himself in prison with his own necker- 
chief. Moreau was condemned to two years' 
imprisonment, but the sentence was commuted at 
the instance of his wife into a journey to North 
America. He bought some property at Delaware, 
and lived quietly there until the news of Napoleon's 
campaign in Russia gave him fresh hope of 
realising his ambitious dreams. He returned in 
1813, and met his death in the midst of the 
enemies of France. Napoleon bought his French 
estate, Grosbois, and gave it to Berthier. His 
hotel at Paris he gave to Bernadotte. It was 
the same house in the rue Anjou from the garden 
of which Napoleon III sent pears to the widowed 
queen Desideria at Stockholm. 

King Louis XVIII was now far from being 
in the mood in which he had written to General 
Bonaparte. He protested in the most lofty terms 
against ' the usurper,' etc. Napoleon's only 
reply was to publish the royal proclamation 
in the Moniteur. 


Meantime, the Emperor's mind was no less 
taken up with great plans than that of the First 
Consul had been. He had to consolidate the new 
order of things that had arisen amidst the hatred 
of the whole of Europe. Throughout his whole 
life he had no peace with England, by day or 
night. There came a time when he felt the whole 
of the continent to be in his hands, but never 
England. It seemed in the end to be Russia that 
undid him, but that was not so in reality. He 
fell before Old England, ' tasteless Albion,' the 
cradle of freedom. 

On the 8th of July, the Emperor left St. Cloud 
for the purpose of inspecting the vast forces with 
which he threatened England. It was in the 
midst of this army and fleet that he arranged the 
great festival at which he founded the order of 
the Legion of Honour. On the broad plain were 
100,000 fine soldiers under the command of 
Marshal Soult, while the fleet, not quite so brilliant, 
lay in the neighbouring harbour. Surrounded by 
his brothers and the new marshals, Napoleon took 
the oath of the new order, and all repeated the 
words after him in a scene of enthusiasm that 
could never be forgotten. 

He travelled about from place to place in the 
north of France for three months, and returned 
through Aix and Mayence on October 12th, in 
order to prepare for the coronation of himself and 
Josephine. It was a pompous and tedious 
ceremony, but perhaps more brilliant than it had 
been under the former kings. It was a point of 


honour with him to eclipse all other princes. 
The pope himself came from Rome, and blessed 
the imperial couple at Notre Dame. But when 
the pious pontiff had uttered the blessing on the 
two crowns that lay before him, Napoleon took 
up one of them and put it on his own head and the 
other on Josephine's, who was on her knees in front 
of the altar. Nothing so stupendous had ever been 
witnessed before. The festivals were brilliant 
beyond conception, but many of the older generals 
and some of the younger ones made fun of all 
his clerical performances and incense. 

The execution of the Due d'Enghien and the 
invasion of Baden had broken off all communi- 
cation between the European courts and Paris, 
and had provoked a new coalition against 
Napoleon. The Emperor wrote another homely 
letter to his ' brother,' the King of England, but 
the only result was a cold and formal reply from 
the ministry, as before. On April 2nd, 1805, 
Napoleon travelled with the Empress to Milan, 
where he crowned himself with the ancient iron 
crown of Lombardy as King of Italy. There was 
enthusiastic rejoicing wherever they appeared in 
France and Italy. In the month of July they 
were back in his favourite chateau at Fontaine- 

Meantime there was great activity in all the 
Cabinets of Europe, and in September, when 
Napoleon was again at Boulogne, where he 
conducted a general experiment in embarking his 
army, the Austrians under General Mack marched 


into Bavaria. Marshal Soult's whole corps was 
already aboard the fleet. But just at the moment 
of the Austrian outbreak, Napoleon learned that 
Admiral Villeneuve, whom he had selected for 
conveying the troops to England, and whose 
appearance in the Channel was daily expected, 
had been shut up in a Spanish harbour and 
blockaded by the English. It was Napoleon's 
original intention to entrust the command to 
Admiral Latouche-Treville, the only French 
admiral of any competence. But he unfortunately 
died just at the time. Count Daru, the general- 
intendant of the army, a man who approached 
Napoleon very closely in daily life, came into the 
Emperor's tent at Boulogne on the very morning 
that the news arrived. The Emperor was walking 
backwards and forwards in the greatest excitement. 

* Sit down, Daru, and write,' he said. 

In the course of one morning he altered his 
long and laborious plans. He wheeled round his 
army, which was facing London, and marched it 
without a break toward Vienna. At one sitting 
he dictated the plans of the campaign that ended 
at Austerlitz. Each army corps received its 
route, from Hanover and Holland, from Italy and 
the south of France. The march for each day 
was prescribed, and all the points were indicated 
at which the columns were to meet. The plan 
was so accurate that the troops marched 200 miles 
eastwards without having to make the slightest 
deviation from the prescribed route. They 
reached their destinations, and the whole plan 
was carried out with complete success. 


We hardly know what to think when we find 
Fouche, the Minister of Police, declaring : ' All 
the Austrian spies were bought much more easily 
than one would think. Most of them had already 
been secured by us in Italy, and this had had a 
good deal to do with the defeat of Wurmser and 
Alvinczy. Before the campaign of 1805, the 
operation was conducted on a larger scale, and 
nearly all the generals on the Austrian staff were 
accessible. I had given all my secret information 
on Germany to General Savary, the head of the 
intelligence department at the Emperor's head- 
quarters, and he used it with success. As all the 
breaches were thus open, it was mere sham fighting 
for our brave soldiers and superior manoeuvres 
at Ulm, on the bridge at Vienna, and at Austerlitz.' 

It was also * sham fighting ' when Napoleon 
pretended one day at the Tuileries, after the Peace 
of Pressburg, to be angry with the Minister of 
Finance, because the treasury was in difficulties at 
the beginning of the war. These difficulties, 
Fouche says, had been created by the Emperor 
himself by abstracting fifty million francs from 
the cellars of the bank for the purpose of bribery. 
They had contributed in a high degree to the 
remarkable success of the improvised campaign. 
It is quite certain that, though Fouche chatters 
and exaggerates, he had good reason to regard 
many things with distrust that seem wonderful to 
us. It is not easy to determine how much was 
due to the superiority and bravery of the leaders, 
and how much was a shameless comedy, facilitated 


by previous payments of money. Spies are now 
an essential part of international intercourse. 
Every country has them and every country hangs 
them. There was certainly nothing in Napoleon's 
character inconsistent with the use of spies and 
bribes. These indelicate weapons were as 
convenient to his hand as to anybody else's. 
Although the landing in England was his favourite 
plan, he may very well have had also a completely 
elaborated plan of the Austrian campaign, 
including all the corruption and treachery on 
which he could safely rely. His head had room 
for everything at that time. If one thing failed, 
he always had another plan. 

The grande armee of the year 1805 was the 
first to be composed entirely on the lines of 
Napoleon's system. In the republican armies each 
corps was a sort of separate army, with its own 
arms of all kinds, commissariat, hospital, train, 
etc. In the course of time Napoleon organised 
the forces so as to have them better in hand 
himself. Each corps was complete with infantry 
and all that belonged to it, including field artillery. 
But of the cavalry only a few squadrons of 
hussars and mounted riflemen, for reconaissances 
and covering, were under the command of the 
head of the corps. A corps was usually com- 
manded by a marshal. The whole of the heavy 
cavalry was under a particular general, who was 
usually Murat ; and of these troops and the 
artillery Napoleon took what each corps needed, 
either in the course of the battle or to execute a 


The corps of the body-guard had developed 
into the Imperial Guard. It consisted of horse 
and foot grenadiers, mamelukes from Egypt, a 
brilliant Italian battalion, and two squadrons of 
picked gendarmes, who kept order at head- 
quarters. To these Napoleon added a chosen 
artillery-park of twenty-four guns, so that the 
Guard was really a small army of 7,000 men, with 
officers selected from the finest in the army. With 
the Guard, Lannes and Oudinot's grenadiers 
generally marched near the Emperor. 

The army that began to march across Europe 
in September was divided into seven corps. The 
first was under Marshal Bernadotte in Hanover, 
with Generals Drouot, Rivaud, and the younger 
Kellermann. The second corps was that of 
General Marmont in Holland. With him were 
Boudet and Grouchy and a large number of Dutch 
auxiliaries. The third corps was under Davoust, 
with Generals Friant and Gudin ; the fourth 
under Soult, with Saint Hilaire, Vandamme, and 
Legrand ; the fifth under Lannes, with Suchet 
and Gazan, and Marshal Oudinot and his 
grenadiers ; the sixth under Ney, with Dupont 
and Loison, and the cavalry-general Colbert ; the 
seventh was led by Marshal Augereau. The 
cavalry, with its brilliant group of generals 
Nansouty, Milhaud, TEspagne, Lasalle, and the 
famous d'Hautpoul was commanded by Murat. 
The mounted Imperial Guard was led by Marshal 
Bessieres, and the foot-guards by Marshal Mortier. 
Marshal Brune remained in the abandoned camp 
at Boulogne. 


All these army corps, with their vast appur- 
tenances began to march on their various routes 
on the same day. They went straight across 
Germany in order to meet the Austrians, who 
had raised a large army under the Archduke 
Charles, and had Russian troops in their rear, 
led by the Emperor Alexander himself and 
General Kutusow. Marching was heavy work in 
those days. The roads were few and bad, and 
there were not many proper bridges ; and they 
had a very heavy train and heavy artillery. 

Bavaria, Baden, and Wiirtemberg received 
Napoleon as a friend and ally, and he adopted 
the dangerous practice of taking large masses of 
foreign troops into his service and expecting the 
same bravery and fidelity from them as from the 
French, when they were under his own officers. 
He had no pronounced national feeling. He 
himself travelled from Paris to Strassburg, and 
crossed the Rhine on the first of October. All 
the information he received assured him that 
everything was in order. The great plan matured 
quickly and accurately. 

On October 15th, General Mack was 
surrounded in the neighbourhood of the fortress 
of Ulm, and completely cut off from the Russians, 
who tried to come to his support from the east. 
In the conflicts that followed Ney won special 
distinction. He was ordered to take a particularly 
strong position, the monastery of Elchingen, which 
was defended by General Laudon with 15,000 men 
and 40 guns. After heavy losses Ney succeeded 


in entering the abbey with a desperate charge. 
Two days afterwards Mack was forced to surrender 
the town and fortress of Ulm. Before Napoleon 
and his staff defiled 30,000 men, with 16 generals, 
60 guns, 40 flags, and 3,000 horses. Berthier 
received the sword of the unfortunate General 
Mack. It was not the first time that General 
Mack had had to surrender his sword. He had 
done so to General Championnet, in the republican 
days, at the taking of Naples. But Championnet 
was a good-natured man. ' Keep your sword, 
General,' he said. ' My government has forbidden 
me to receive presents of English manufacture.' 
Marshal Ney was made Duke of Elchingen and 
General Exelmans received the grand cross of the 
Legion of Honour for his behaviour at Wertingen. 
After the capitulation of Ulm the troops, 
with Napoleon in the midst of them, marched 
from victory to victory. Marshal Mortier im- 
mortalised himself by a heroic struggle against 
a superior force at Diirnstein. Murat was to be 
found everywhere with his cavalry. The whole 
army, which had now been in Napoleon's hands 
for ten years, was perfect in every respect, and its 
generals were at their best. No one was ever tired. 
Rivalry had not yet become bitter. The generous 
gifts and distinctions were still at their beginning. 
Oudinot marched straight with his grenadiers from 
the Boulogne camp to Vienna in 45 days. There 
he went himself with some of his officers on the 
undermined bridge over the Danube, and snatched 
the burning fuse out of the hands of the Austrian 


officers who stood ready to blow up the bridge. 
Murat, Lannes, and Sebastian! were with him. 

On November 15th, 1805, Napoleon rode into 
Vienna for the first time. The Emperor Francis 
had retreated to Olmiitz. The French army 
marched after him. Marshal Soult, afterwards 
Duke of Dalmatia, one of the solid generals who 
always led large divisions of the army with 
distinction, crossed the Danube, and defeated the 
enemy at Hollabrunn. An envoy came from the 
Emperor Francis with a proposal to conclude an 
armistice ; but Napoleon knew very well that 
this was merely in order to give the Russians time 
to come up. Field-marshal Kutusow and the 
Emperor Alexander were already at Wischau. 

Napoleon seized the opportunity to approach 
the man whom he regarded as his greatest rival 
in the world, and who was afterwards the last to 
be conquered or won by him. He proposed a 
personal interview with the Tsar, but Alexander 
merely sent Prince Dolgorucki. When the prince 
came, Napoleon had caused his army to retreat 
a couple of miles, and was busy strengthening his 
new position. Dolgorucki concluded from this 
that the French had lost courage, and would 
rather retreat than face the Russians. His 
impression was received with delight by the 
Russians, and they at once advanced. Napoleon 
took up his head-quarters at Briinn, and was 
determined to choose his own field of battle. 

On Novermber 28th, the combined armies 
were far beyond Wischau and near to Pratzen. 


Napoleon acquainted his generals with the ground 
he had chosen, and said : ' If I merely wanted to 
keep the enemy off, I should remain here on the 
heights of Pratzen. But in that case I should 
only win an ordinary battle. I will, therefore, 
let my right wing take up a position in the direction 
of Briinn, and if the Russians are enticed by 
that to descend from these hills, they are hope- 
lessly lost.' On December 1st Napoleon was 
delighted to see that the Russians and Austrians 
were executing the very manoeuvre that he was 
luring them to do. They left the heights of 
Pratzen and marched on Briinn, in order to attack 
or surround the French right wing. Those with 
Napoleon heard him say repeatedly to himself 
* Before to-morrow night the army is in my 

On the evening of December 1st he went 
round the camp. Some of the soldiers made 
torches out of the straw they slept on, in order to 
light the way for the Emperor in the dark winter 
night. The whole army noticed it, and as he 
went from corps to corps the straw-torches flamed 
out, until the whole camp was filled with fire and 
smoke, and the cry rang out from thousands of 
throats : ' Long live the Emperor !' 

On the morning of December 2nd, 1805, the 
entire French army was drawn up in order of 
battle, as he had directed. Marshal Lannes 
formed the left whig with the divisions of Suchet 
and Cafarelli. Marshal Bernadotte was in the 
centre with Rivaud and Drouot. The right wing 


was led by Marshal Soult, and really decided the 
battle. The whole of the cavalry under Murat 
sat on horseback in two lines. Napoleon himself 
had under him ten battalions of the Guard, and 
ten battalions of grenadiers under Oudinot. The 
sun burst out of the wintry fog that lay on the 
plain and the ice-covered waters, and was mirrored 
on the panoply of war. At that moment the 
Russians were seen to leave Pratzen. 

* How long will you need, Marshal,' Napoleon 
asked Soult, ' to occupy the hills that the enemy 
is leaving ?' 

' One hour, your Majesty !' 

' Good ! Then we'll wait another quarter of 
an hour,' said Napoleon. 

Soon afterwards the guns opened fire and the 
battle began. Kutusow had divided his fighting 
forces into six corps. As reserves he had the 
famous Russian Guard, which was commanded by 
the Grand Duke Constantine. Although Field- 
marshal Kutusow had the chief command, the 
plan came from the Austrian General Weiroth. 
Kutusow had fruitlessly resisted it. When he 
now saw the turn that the battle was taking, as 
Marshal Soult's troops began to occupy the hills 
at Pratzen, he tried with all his forces to overpower 
them, and he fought with heavy losses to regain 
the position which he now clearly saw to be 
of decisive importance. For two hours there was 
a fierce conflict. At length Kutusow had to give 
way, and from that moment the battle took such 
a turn that nothing could stand against the 


French. Lannes and Murat forced back the right 
wing under Prince Bagration ; General Rapp 
made his famous attack with the curassiers, in 
which he took Prince Repnin prisoner ; and when 
Napoleon came up to support Soult with his 
Guard and Oudinot's grenadiers, everything fell 
at once into the hands of the French guns, 
artillery waggons, flags, etc. Those who tried to 
flee across the river were drowned, as the ice broke 
under the weight of the guns and owing to the 
holes made in it by the French balls. Whole 
divisions were demolished or gave up their arms. 

The result was extraordinary. There were 
25,000 killed and wounded and 25,000 taken 
prisoners, together with a number of flags, 
including the standard of the Imperial Russian 

Only two French officers of high rank fell at 
Austerlitz. General Valhuet, whose leg was shot 
from under him, died at once, and Colonel Morland 
fell at the head of the riflemen of the Imperial 
Guard. His body was taken to Paris in a cask 
of rum, but was forgotten and left in it until 1814. 
The brave and active General Rapp was badly 
wounded. He was one of the unlucky officers. 
He got four wounds in the republican wars and 
three in Egypt. His arm especially was unlucky, 
and was always being hit. General Thiebault also 
was wounded. 

After Austerlitz Napoleon's habit of rewarding 
his men assumed the most princely proportions, 
and he retained this generosity as long as he had 


anything to give away. He adopted the children 
of the soldiers who had fallen in the battle. They 
were to be reared at the expense of the State, 
and he gave them permission to add ' Napoleon ' 
to their names. He awarded pensions to all the 
widows, from the widows of generals to those of 
privates, and expressed his thanks to the army in 
fine language. * My people will receive you with 
pride,' he said, 'and whenever one of you says 
" I was at Austerlitz," all will respond with one 
voice : " This is a brave man." 

In recognition of their aid Bavaria and 
Wiirtemberg were made kingdoms, and Baden a 
Grand Duchy. Murat was made Grand Duke of 
Berg, Berthier Prince of Neuchatel. Eugene 
Beauharnais, Josephine's son, was appointed 
Viceroy of Italy and married to a daughter of the 
King of Bavaria. Shortly afterwards Joseph 
became King of Naples, and Lucien King of 
Holland. A large number of officers received 
titles, decorations, money, and property. The 
Peace of Pressburg was soon concluded. Austria 
lost Venice, which went to Italy, and Tyrol, which 
was given to Bavaria. The Emperor Alexander, 
who might have been taken prisoner with his whole 
army, was allowed to escape. This was always 
Napoleon's way with the Tsar. 

It rarely happens in descriptions of battles 
that one can get more than a series of pictures 
of the collision of various arms, the heroic attack 
or the stubborn resistance of the infantry that 
decides the important position. To see a battle 


as a connected whole, with plan opposed to plan, 
and with the various scenes subordinated to the 
general idea and the better calculation that 
eventually leads to victory, is not easy for any 
but a military expert. Nevertheless, I have 
succeeded in making a sort of survey of some of 
Napoleon's battles. It is not the case in all 
battles that one side steadily wins ; that all the 
forces are tried, yet, taking all things together, 
the superiority is on the one side throughout. In 
some battles the victory comes suddenly in the 
middle of the fight. In a moment one side utterly 
loses, and good solid troops are rendered quite 
useless at a stroke. Austerlitz was a battle of 
this kind. During the two hours when Kutusow 
attempted with his entire army to regain the 
heights of Pratzen, the struggle was equal in a 
sense, and on neither side was there any perceptible 
increase of success. It was as if a steel rod 
were strained more and more until it suddenly 
broke, and the destruction was complete. Troops 
like the invincible Russian Imperial Guard 
suddenly became of no more use than recruits. 

I see the same thing in a different way at 
Marengo. Throughout the whole day the 
Austrians drove back Napoleon's right wing and 
centre further and further. In the afternoon he 
was in such a position that everybody thought it 
had been a steady defeat from morning to evening. 
But Bonaparte saw the strain on the steel bar. 
Firmly and judiciously he prevented the break 
until Desaix was at hand. Then the bent steel 


flew suddenly back upon the Austrians, and they 
were defeated. It was not merely that he had 
got reinforcements ; the inexplicable moment of 
collapse had arrived. There was no retreat and 
no loss, but flight and capture. 

It was the same at Waterloo. It is always 
said that Wellington was beaten strategically. 
Napoleon had strained the steel bar with his 
forces more than ever. The issue of the fight 
vacillated, and it was impossible to tell on which 
side the bar would spring. Napoleon alone knew 
that it was an hour too late. And when, not 
only Marshal Grouchy did not appear, but Bliicher 
came instead, the bar sprang back at once and 
broke, but in the reverse direction, and Wellington 
won his great victory. 

The Prussian campaign began immediately 
after the Austrian. Metternich was at Berlin in 
1805, and made the greatest efforts to bring 
Prussia into the alliance, but Frederic William 
remained firm. Now, however, a year later and 
after the battle of Austerlitz, he opened the 
unfortunate war that brought Prussia to the verge 
of destruction. Without making any declaration 
of war, the Prussians moved into Saxony, just 
as the Austrians had invaded Bavaria in the 
previous year. It is a fact that on the 26th of 
September, 1806, Napoleon, with his finger on 
the map at Paris, foretold the destruction of the 
Prussian army about October 15th. It took 
place on October 14th. He then settled that 
Clarke should be Governor at Berlin at the end 


of October. When Daru asked permission to 
take the treasury with them, the Emperor replied : 
* It will do if the treasurer comes.' He took only 
24,000 francs with him on the campaign in Saxony. 
The vanquished must pay the bill. 

The Imperial Guard at once left Paris, and 
went eastwards in post-chaises. Napoleon crossed 
the Rhine on October 1st, 1806, and set up his 
head-quarters at Bamberg. Here he collected his 
troops under the seven marshals, Bernadotte, 
Lannes, Davoust, Ney, Soult, Augereau, and 
Lefebvre. Murat led the cavalry. It was an 
unfortunate beginning for the Prussians when the 
young and promising prince of the royal house, 
Louis, was cut down by a French hussar in a 
skirmish at Saalfeld, a few days before the decisive 
battles of Jena and Auerstadt. However, the 
King of Prussia and his generals were so sure of 
victory that they had taken up their position 
between Gotha, Erfurt, and Weimar, while 
Napoleon came from Gera, or eastwards. Thus 
the armies were not face to face. The Germans 
had the Rhine in their rear and the French the 
Elbe, with an open field to Berlin and Dresden. 
The Prussians had themselves chosen Saxony for 
the fight. But it was the army of Frederic the 
Great, invincible in the opinion of contemporaries, 
and led by the generals and pupils of the famous 
king. We have only to think of such names as 
Kalkreuth, the Duke of Brunswick, Mollendorf, 
Schmettau, Hohenlohe, Ruchel, and Bliicher, with 
230,000 stout bronze-soldiers from Potsdam, well 
armed and well drilled. 


Napoleon again sent one of his letters from 
monarch to monarch this time to the King of 
Prussia : 

4 If I were a novice in the art of war and 
had to fear the changes of fortune on the field, 
this letter to your Majesty would be senseless. 
But your Majesty will be beaten, and without a 
shadow of doubt you will put an end to your 
own peaceful existence and the lives of your 

Napoleon's royal brother, Frederic William, 
sent no reply to the letter. He and Queen Louisa 
were with the army. The army was in two 
divisions, one of which, consisting of 70,000 men, 
led by the King and the Duke of Brunswick, 
marched toward Auerstadt ; the rest, under Prince 
Hohenlohe, went toward Jena. The two places 
are about five miles from each other. Napoleon 
had made such good use of the night on October 
14th, that his troops were ready for the attack in 
the early morning, and just at the points where 
the Prussians least expected them. The first to 
move was General Suchet. He opened the battle 
in the early hours, while the mist still lay thick 
on the fields. With him were Generals Wedel and 
Claparede, whose division had distinguished itself 
at Austerlitz in the preceding year. 

They met with a long and stubborn and 
desperate resistance. Marshals Soult and Lannes 
attacked with all their forces. Ney came up 
during the fight with two divisions. Napoleon 
sent forward the reserve, and Murat threw himself 


on the enemy, as usual, with the whole of his 
cavalry. The Prussians gave way slowly at first, 
with the utmost coolness and the regularity of 
the parade ground. The infantry formed one 
square after another. But when five squares 
were completely ridden down, one after another, 
by the French hussars and curassiers, the Prussians 
gradually broke into dangerous disorder. Their 
cavalry began to fail before Soult's solid columns, 
and retreated in the direction of Weimar. 

At this moment the reinforcements that 
Prince Hohenlohe expected came up. General 
Riichel's corps, consisting of 26 battalions and 
20 squadrons, reached the fighting line. The 
struggle now became extremely fierce, but in 
less than an hour the whole corps melted away 
under the repeated attacks that Napoleon showered 
on it. In the end there was nothing left of * the 
army of Frederic the Great.' The older art of 
war had measured itself against the new, and 
utterly lost. The revolution was so great from 
the military point of view that contemporaries 
were more amazed than they were at any other of 
Napoleon's victories. The defeat was not in 
itself greater than many others in respect of the 
direct losses of men and material ; but the military 
and moral effect of it was crushing at the time 
for the losers, if instructive for the future. 

While Napoleon was fighting at Jena on the 
same day, October 14th Marshal Davoust 
encountered the division of the Prussian army 
that was led by the Duke of Brunswick, to which 


the King himself was attached. With Davoust 
were Generals Gudin, Friant, and Morand, whose 
distinguished divisions nearly always formed the 
nucleus of the army corps that he commanded. 
He had, however, not much more than a third of 
the forces opposed to him, and he found himself 
in a very dangerous position. Marshal Bernadotte 
was quite near to him, but he acted as if he did 
not hear the guns. He even took with him 
some regiments of dragoons that did not properly 
belong to his corps ; his real reason being that he 
did not want to share the honours with Davoust, 
and would have liked to see him beaten by the 
Prussians, which might very well have happened. 

The danger to Davoust's corps was at its 
height about six in the evening. He himself sat 
on his horse, serious and grave, as he always was, 
in the midst of the frightful turmoil. Already a 
ball had carried off his hat. He once more sent 
a messenger one of his adjutants, the brave 
Romeuf, who afterwards fell at Borodino to 
Bernadotte, imploring him to come to his help. 
Davoust who knew him even offered him the 
supreme command. But Bernadotte marched on, 
though he had only one turn to make to reach 
the battlefield. Even in the end, when Davoust 
had won the battle with his unflinching coolness 
and superior art, and when his men were so tired 
that they could hardly stand on their legs, 
Bernadotte would not throw himself on the 
demoralised Prussians, although he was near 
enough for his and Davoust's soldiers to see each 


It is true that there was a deep personal 
enmity between the two marshals, but the whole 
army and all the officers were enraged against 
Bernadotte. The Emperor used to say afterwards : 
* If I had sent Bernadotte before a court-martial 
at that time, he would certainly have been shot 
for his conduct.' It is said that Napoleon had 
the decree in his hand, but tore it up at the 
last moment out of consideration for D6sir6e, 
Bernadotte's wife, who had had some leaning to 
Napoleon in her younger days. 

Davoust's victory at Auerstadt on October 
14th, 1806, is always regarded as one of the most 
brilliant in the annals of the French army. The 
Emperor made him Duke of AuerstSdt, and gave 
him splendid gifts. Davoust was of the old 
nobility, and he had known the Bonapartes since 
the military school at Brienne. He served under 
the generals of the Republic, but was excluded 
from the service because he was a noble. He 
afterwards became one of Napoleon's most reliable 
leaders, training and keeping his men together 
with a firm and hard hand, so that the third 
army corps was a model body. 

The losses of the Prussians in the two battles 
were enormous. Davoust alone took 114 guns, 
while he himself had only 44. About 50,000 men 
fell or were made prisoners, and he captured 
flags and supplies of all sorts. Amongst the 
prisoners there were 6,000 Saxons with their 
officers. Napoleon had the officers brought before 
him at Weimar, He told them that it was one 


object of the campaign to prevent the incorporation 
of Saxony into Prussia. He then sent them on 
parole to Dresden, and entrusted to them a 
proclamation in which he posed as Saxony's 
protector. This was a finely calculated intro- 
duction to the intimacy he gradually formed with 
the Saxon court and the later king of Saxony. 

The veterans of Frederic the Great were 
beaten, but most of them fought to the death. 
The defeat was still further embittered for Prussia 
as it meant the extinction of so many great names. 
The famous Duke of Brunswick had both eyes 
shot out, and he died shortly afterwards. Field- 
marshal Mollendorf and General lieutenant 
Schmettau were fatally wounded. Prince Henry 
of Prussia and the Prince of Orange, afterwards 
King of Holland, were wounded, and so were 
General Riichel and others. Frederic William, 
always moderate, was content with a fall from 
his horse, but he very nearly fell into the hands 
of the French horsemen. 

An armistice was asked, but Napoleon at 
once replied that he would only treat with them 
at Berlin. He assumed a hard and unpleasant 
attitude toward Frederic William, whom he 
despised, and later toward Queen Louisa, whom he 
could not endure. It was quite a different matter 
when he was dealing with Alexander the First. 
A few days after Jena, General Kalkreuth, another 
of Frederic the Great's first generals, was 
annihilated by Marshal Soult. Bernadotte won 
a victory at Halle ; and they went on from battle 


to battle, the unfortunate queen having to fly 
from town to town as far as Kiistrin. 

Prince Hohenlohe had to surrender to Murat 
with his whole army at Prentzlau. As prisoners 
of war, 16,000 foot and six regiments of cavalry of 
the best soldiers in Prussia, with 60 guns, and 40 
flags, had to pass before the French lines. Stettin, 
which was then a strong fortress, surrendered to 
the brave cavalry-general Lasalle, who attacked 
it at the head of a few squadrons. Davoust took 
Kiistrin. In the end Bliicher alone remained, and 
he retreated before the advancing French with 
the remnants of the fine army, and established 
himself at Liibeck. Three marshals Soult, 
Bernadotte, and Murat went after him. Bliicher 
contested every foot of the ground in Liibeck. 
They fought in the fortifications, at the gates, and 
afterwards in the houses. Every street had to 
be stormed and taken, but after two days fighting 
Bliicher had to surrender, with eleven generals, 
500 officers, 60 flags, artillery, and supplies all 
that was left after the catastrophes at Jena and 

On the following day Magdeburg fell, and 
then there was nothing left in Prussia to fight 
with. Meantime the French had set up their 
head- quarters at Potsdam. Marshals Lannes, 
Bessieres, and Lefebvre, were there with the 
Guard, and General Bourcier erected a large 
cavalry depot there. The town was long held by 
the French. 


On October 27th Napoleon rode with the 
Guard through the triumphal arch that had been 
raised to the memory of Frederic the Great at 
Berlin. The campaign with Prussia proper was 
now at an end, but as Russia came forth as the 
ally and deliverer of Prussia, the war had to 
continue, and the French armies gaily made then- 
way eastwards towards Warsaw. During the 
following campaign the Emperor remained with 
the army, and spent the winter in the eastern 
provinces of Prussia. From his head-quarters he 
ruled his entire empire, and kept his eye on 
everything, particularly Paris. Amongst other 
things during the winter, he worked out the plan 
of a monumental structure at Paris, which was 
to have the inscription : * To the soldiers of 
Napoleon's grand army.' In it the heroes of all 
his campaigns were to be named on tablets of 
white marble, and those who fell on the field were 
to be inscribed in gold. The Madeleine church in 
its present form was the ultimate outcome of 
his plan. 

Another task that engaged him was his great 
plan of blockading the continent against England. 
It was, perhaps, a larger plan than he suspected, 
and at all events it proved too big for him in the 
end. He also made the Elector of Saxony king ; 
he was the only one among the legitimate princes 
who was a friend of Napoleon. 

In the early days of February, 1807, there 
was a series of conflicts with the Russians, who 
were commanded by General Bennigsen, together 


with the remaining fighting forces of Prussia. 
The French broke out of their winter quarters, 
where they had spent a hard winter in the midst 
of snow and morasses and mud ; though it was 
nothing to compare, as some may imagine, with 
the cold of Russia or the fearful snow-storms of 
the eastern plains. On February 8th the two 
armies faced each other at Eylau, at a distance of 
half a cannon shot. The Russians had the better 
position, and were numerically superior. It was 
very bad weather. The snow was falling heavily 
and the French had the wind in their faces. 
Bennigsen opened the battle with a terrific gun- 
fire. The Russians, taught by Napoleon, had 
now a large and excellent artillery. Napoleon 
felt that it was a critical day. He spared nothing, 
even sending forward the valuable guns of the 

Marshal Augereau had to lead forward his 
corps at the beginning of the battle in face of the 
heavy Russian fire. But just as the great masses 
were set in motion they were lashed by a 
particularly heavy and violent snowstorm, coming 
right in the faces of the advancing French. 
Augereau' s columns lost their bearings, and found 
themselves in the middle of the Russian right wing, 
which was commanded by Generals Tutschukoff 
and Doctorow. The marshal himself was seriously 
wounded and had to be carried from the field, 
and his fine corps was routed and almost 


As soon as they could see their way again, 
it was clear to Napoleon that the whole army 
was put in a critical condition through Augereau's 
mishap. He ordered Murat and Bessieres to 
collect 70 squadrons and throw them against the 
enemy's centre. The immense body of horse 
rushed forward and disappeared in the half-lost 
battle. Their attack at Eylau has become famous 
for all time. The Russian cavalry was routed, 
and the solid regiments of infantry were trodden 
down. At the head was a man who had the 
highest repute in the cavalry after Murat General 
d'Hautpoul. When the battle began he was some 
distance from Eylau. But he at once obeyed 
Napoleon's old general order, always to march 
toward the guns. As soon as he heard them, he 
turned his curassiers and raced to Eylau. 

Bernadotte, who was also not far off, behaved 
again as he had done at Auerstadt. D'Hautpoul 
begged and implored him to return and join in 
the battle, but he would neither hear nor see. He 
continued the march that had been directed to 
him not because he was afraid : it was not 
possible for any one about Napoleon to be afraid 
but the Prince of Ponte Corvo was so ambitious 
that he would not have minded seeing one of the 
others defeated, even if it was Napoleon perhaps, 
especially Napoleon. 

The brave d'Hautpoul rushed with his 
curassiers into the half-lost battle, and made a 
great breach through nearly the whole Russian 
army. He was brought back wounded and torn, 


and died a few days afterwards. Napoleon had 
given him the grand cross of the Legion of Honour 
and ample endowments after Austerlitz, and it 
was the common opinion that General d'Hautpoul 
was well on the way to become a marshal. 
Napoleon had a statue of him made from 24 of 
the guns taken at Eylau. It is still standing 
somewhere at Paris I do not remember where. 
But I recollect well a large equestrian statue of 
Bernadotte that is still seen in Christiania. 

After the fierce attack of the cavalry had 
broken twice through the Russian lines, they 
concentrated for the third time. They now stood 
firm, and could not be shaken again. The fight 
continued all day with extraordinary spirit, but 
General Bennigsen established his position in the 
town of Eylau. The Prussian General L'Estocq 
came up with some reinforcements in the afternoon 
and the battle was left undecided when darkness 
set in. Marshal Soult urged Napoleon to remain 
on the battlefield. About eight o'clock the camp 
fires were lit along the whole line in order to 
mark the fact that the French occupied the field. 
Bennigsen, however, retreated during the night. 
He may have suffered more than Napoleon, who 
had a good many reserve troops to rely on. But 
the battle had run in such a way that both sides 
could claim the victory, as they really did. At 
all events neither side was defeated. 

A number of high officers had fallen. Sixteen 
generals were lost on the French side including 


Corbineau, who fell at the Emperor's side. 
Heudelet received a ball through the middle of 
the body, but he recovered. Defiance and 
Desjardins fell. So did General Dahlmann, who 
commanded the mounted rifles, and fell with 
d'Hautpoul in the great cavalry attack. The loss 
was also very great amongst the soldiers and 
inferior officers. The battle of Eylau was always 
spoken of afterwards in grave tones. It was the 
most sanguinary that was ever seen in the 
Emperor's campaigns. Napoleon himself spent 
a good deal of the following night on the field, 
helping the wounded and directing the burial of 
the enormous number of corpses. 

The Emperor's bulletin on the battle of 
Eylau caused great excitement at Paris. He 
made no effort to conceal his great losses and the 
doubtful issue. After Eylau the white uniforms 
were abandoned. There were a number of white 
regiments in the army, dating from the time of 
the kings ; but it was too terrible at Eylau to see 
the red blood pouring over the fine white uniforms. 

During the battle the Emperor himself was 
in serious danger, partly because he recklessly 
exposed himself to it, and partly because of the 
close proximity of the two armies. Berthier had 
the greatest difficulty in keeping him out of the 
most dangerous spots. The Emperor was as cool 
and collected as usual, though the generals 
could not conceal the fact that they felt the whole 
issue to be hanging by a single thread. General 


Dorsenne commanded the section of the Guard 
that was nearest to the Emperor, and tried to 
protect him as much as possible. He was, like 
most of the officers of the Guard, a fine tall man, 
with some care for personal appearance. His 
men also were picked and they were just as proud 
of their general as he was content with them 
himself. In the middle of the battle, at the height 
of the turmoil, General Dorsenne suddenly caught 
sight of a division of Prussian cavalry that seemed 
about to storm the little hill where the Emperor and 
his attendants were standing. He called his men, 
and quick as lightning formed a square round the 
Emperor with the Guard. The soldiers stood with 
arms presented, but heard no command to fire 
or lower the bayonet. General Dorsenne sat 
erect and proud in his saddle, looking at the 
approaching horsemen. It was enough for him 
that his grenadiers stood like a wall round the 
Emperor. In fact, when the Russians drew near 
and saw the grim faces of the famous Imperial 
Guard with the high bear-skin helmets, standing 
shoulder to shoulder like an iron frame, the troop 
instinctively turned aside and rode away. The 
Emperor smiled at Dorsenne. 

On February 16th General Savary had his 
great day as a soldier. He was generally employed 
in a political capacity, as an envoy or in the 
police. As a friend of Napoleon's youth, who 
could be implicitly trusted, he had often to do 
things that brought him the contempt and hatred 


of others. At this time, however, he had 
temporary command of the fifth army corps, 
during the illness of Marshal Lannes, and on the 
16th he succeeded in defeating the Russian 
General Essen after a stiff fight at Ostrolenka. 
He had with him the divisions of Suchet, Gazan, 
and Reille. He was given the grand cordon of 
the Legion of Honour and an award of 20,000 
francs a year, which had been set free by General 
d'Hautpoul's death at Eylau. He afterwards 
became the Duke of Rovigo. General Ordener 
was made a Count after the battle of Ostrolenka. 

After a long and spirited siege the elderly 
Marshal Lefebvre took the fortress of Dantzig. 
He had with him the first two engineer-generals 
of the army, Lariboisiere and Chasseloup, and it 
was really these who conducted the siege. The 
marshal was always for storming, and they had 
the greatest difficulty in restraining him until they 
were ready. In the end General Kalkreuth had 
to surrender Dantzig with large stores of arms, 
ammunition, and corn. Lefebvre was afterwards 
Duke of Dantzig. 

A number of smaller battles were won by the 
French, and at last the great battle of Friedland 
put an end to the war with Russia. The Tsar, 
like the King of Prussia before, had no army to 
fight with. Napoleon fought the battle of Fried- 
land on the anniversary of Marengo, the 14th oi 
June. It did not begin until five in the afternoon, 
and was a complete victory one of the most 


thorough infantry victories, won by the bayonet, 
the cavalry afterwards swooping like hawks on 
the fugitives. This time the Emperor himself 
was on the heels of the monarchs. When they 
reached Tilsit, the bridge across the Niemen was 
still burning by which they had saved themselves 
and the remnants of their armies. The booty was 
enormous. At Konigsberg, for instance, they 
found 160,000 new English weapons, that had 
not yet been unloaded. 

The Emperors Napoleon and Alexander met 
eventually at Tilsit. They were daily together for 
a whole fortnight, discussing political matters. 
Napoleon wanted to have a free hand in regard 
to Spain, and Alexander in regard to Finland. 
He treated the Tsar with great moderation, in 
fact with a consideration that was foreign to his 
nature, and at his request, restored to Prussia 
sufficient territory to keep it in existence. On 
the other hand Alexander recognised the three 
kings Joseph, Lucien, and Jerome, and the King 
of Saxony as Grand-duke of Warsaw. Finally, 
he joined the continental blockade ; but he never 
seriously meant a single word that fell from his 
lips. However, Napoleon, who could at the time 
have divided the world into two parts, was glad to 
secure the recognition and the friendship of the 
man ; he considered that this was all that was 
wanting to his power. 

The armies then returned in triumph to 
France, where all the towns, with Paris at their 



head, received with the utmost hospitality the 
brave soldiers who had been away for ten months. 
The Emperor made a generous distribution of 
crosses of the Legion of Honour and awards, but 
with strict regard to justice, which gave an 
increased value to every gift. 


The Emperor was now quite at home in every 
part of Europe. He was familiar with all the 
castles of Italy and the continent. Every day 
the officers and servants of his court were brought 
before him ; and when his travelling carriage 
galloped over the drawbridge at night, the torch- 
bearer stood at the steps, his own officers flung 
open the door of the carriage and received him, 
and the little man in the grey coat walked quietly 
in the torch light up the broad steps ; the aged 
and powdered servants of the castle standing by 
with candelabra in their trembling hands. He 
strode through the well-lit halls to his own rooms, 
was relieved of his clothes by his own valet, and 
flung himself into his boiling bath as if he were at 

Everything that belonged to his person was 
of the finest quality, arranged most punctiliously, 
and in his own grand style. His carriage horses 
were picked animals, and arranged in relays of 


three pairs each with an outrider. When he had 
to travel 20 kilometres (12J miles) six relays of 
horses were arranged on the route, so that he 
only went a short distance with the same horses. 
He generally went at a sort of gallop, though one 
must remember what kind of roads were in 
existence a hundred years ago and the heaviness 
of the carriages. There was no question of reading 
or studying maps in the carriage. Nevertheless, 
there were books, writing materials, maps, and 
field glasses with each relay. Every object was 
marked with the number of the relay, so that it 
was easy to arrange in the night before a journey, 
without anyone knowing of it. 

He had, in fact, plenty to think about. 
When he travelled eastwards, he reflected on his 
campaigns. Along the route he received couriers, 
or there might be a marshal with his staff at a 
prearranged point to confer with him. Day and 
night he galloped on through villages and dark 
woods. His coach thundered along the narrow 
streets, and the light of his torches flashed like 
lightning across the narrow windows. ' There he 
is again,' the Germans said, as they shrank 
underneath the bed-clothes. He sat confidently 
in his stout carriage, his escort rattling along at 
the side with gleaming sabres and pistols. 

When he went westwards, he considered above 
all things what else he could do for Paris, which 
was never out of his thoughts. He mentally 
decided on fresh distinctions, promotions, and 
gifts for his men. Wherever he went he kept his 


eye on the crown property and the public domains. 
He accumulated property that he could share as 
he pleased amongst his marshals and dukes. It 
is difficult to appreciate the munificence of the 
man in his awards. He never loaded favourites 
and courtiers with wealth, as foolish princes do ; 
still less dare women interfere in such matters. 
His gifts were a manly recognition of manly 
strength and courage, which never escaped his 
attention from the marshal to the little drummer 
who ran out in his shirt and beat the alarm. 

At one time Marshal Davoust, Duke of 
Auerstadt and Prince of Eckmiihl had an annual 
income of 1,800,000 francs (72,000) from his 
offices and domains. However, this did not last 
many years. In 1814 all property was lost that 
lay outside the strict limits of France. But when 
we recollect what an income of 72,000 meant a 
hundred years ago, we can realise how money 
circulated about the person of Napoleon. And 
Davoust was anything but a favourite ! There 
was nothing between the Emperor and him to 
compare with Napoleon's feeling for Duroc, 
Lannes, Junot, or Marmont. The awards to 
Davoust were merely a recognition of the qualities 
that made him an indispensable and invincible 

Napoleon's princely titles were not empty 
ones like those that victorious monarchs of our 
own time bestow with silken sashes. Most of his 
officers and chief servants received with their 
titles incomes that enabled them to keep good 


house at Paris. We still find amongst the highest 
French aristocracy many of the princely names 
that were originally given to Napoleon's soldiers. 
In point of fact, it is difficult to identify sometimes 
the titles that cover the names of distinguished 
soldiers and statesmen. Murat was first Grand- 
duke of Cleve and Berg, and afterwards King of 
Naples. Berthier was the reigning Prince of 
Neuchatel. Ponte Corvo and Benevento also 
were real and independent principalities, and were 
given to Bernadotte and Talleyrand and their 

In 1806 Napoleon created 22 principalities 
out of the annexed territories, such as Venice, 
the hereditary title bringing with it five-tenths 
of the revenue of the respective district. Many 
of the marshals received duchies of this character 
Soult was Duke of Dalmatia, Bessieres of Istria, 
Victor of Belluno, Moncey of Conegliano, Mortier 
of Treviso, Macdonald of Tarentum, Oudinot of 
Reggio. Besides the marshals General Duroc 
became Duke of Friaul, Maret of Bassano, Savary 
of Rovigo, Fouche of Otranto, and a Corsican 
relative of the Bonaparte family, Arrighi, a 
courageous cavalry general, was made Duke of 
Padua. The best titles were those that were taken 
from the battles, and designated the victors 
throughout life. The aged Kellermann was made 
Duke of Valmy ; Lefebvre, Duke of Dantzig ; 
Massena, Duke of Rivoli and Prince of Esslingen ; 
Lannes, Duke of Montebello ; Ney, Duke of 
Elchingen and Prince of Moskwa and Beresina ; 


Davoust, Duke of Auerstadt and Prince of 

For all these and many others the Emperor 
provided generous incomes, either in the form of 
productive property, or, if there was any difficulty 
in this, in the form of princely gifts. He kept 
them all in mind, and although he did not like 
them or their wives to waste, he equally disliked 
parsimony. He wanted his men to fill the space 
vacated at the Revolution, and effect the transition 
from France's older nobility to the new society 
that he would create. He therefore surrounded 
himself with a brilliant circle at home and abroad. 
Wherever he went, a court was formed about 
him it was done for the first time at the chateau 
of Montebello. In every town in Europe and in 
the deserted castles his daily life had the same 
invariable tenour as at St. Cloud or Fontainebleau. 

There was the same regularity and continuity 
in his work from morning till night. Reviews of 
troops that were off to the war ; reorganisation of 
the corps that returned suffering from the field ; 
work in his own cabinet with his secretaries and 
general-staff officers or with foreign envoys. He 
ate when he pleased ; and he always had something 
good. Even in the worst days in Russia, when 
all the others suffered great privations, the 
Emperor always had his chambertin ; and there 
was always a little meat or fowl at his meals. 
He had only to nod and a small table was spread 
for him as rapidly as at the Tuileries. He used 
to say himself that it seemed to be done by magic. 


When he was in the field they put a chicken to 
roast every half-hour, and it often happened that 
they roasted twelve before he would eat. During 
the fight his head cook would make his way 
through the confusion, and bring the Emperor 
something to eat and a glass of wine on horseback. 
Although Napoleon seemed to set little store 
on such things, he was waited upon on every side 
with a devotion that no other man ever experienced, 
Everything pertaining to his person and his daily 
life was of the best quality ; and wherever he 
was at home or abroad he lived like the best- 
served prince in Europe. His officers also were 
well treated in the first campaigns on the continent. 
The highest of them began to display a certain 
luxury, but there was no effeminacy or excess. 
It was said of Junot alone, the Duke of Abrantes, 
that his prodigality was ridiculous ; that, for 
instance, his carriages and his fine stables were 
equal to the Emperor's. For the younger officers 
the first campaigns to Vienna and Berlin were 
mere picnics. They knew that they were going 
out for victory and promotion, and they reached 
courts and circles where there were no other young 
men besides themselves, but a large number of the 
finest ladies, who could not withstand the hand- 
some cavaliers from Paris that swept in like a 
hurricane from the field, laughing and amorous, 
and were off in the morning perhaps for ever. 
The gay Lasalle, the handsome Colbert, Gardanne 
with the famous moustache, Turenne, Segur they 
were the greatest names the old ladies could 


imagine, as they blushingly asked : ' How is your 
father, the Duke ?' 

The officers who were not elegant enough for 
these circles found open houses and hunting 
properties, with as much shooting, gaiety, and 
dancing as they wished. In the kitchen and the 
cellar they found natives who could serve them in 
Parisian fashion, and the butlers were only too 
pleased to produce for them their master's old 
French wine. When they were garrisoned in 
large German towns, they turned everything 
upside down with their follies, infatuated the 
women and drove the men to despair. One 
young general confided to his German tailor that 
the latest fashion at Paris was to wear close-fitting 
white silk hose with red tassels at the knees ; but 
the tailor was not to tell anybody, because the 
general wanted to be the only one in fashion 
at the next ball. It turned out as he expected. 
The tailor had not kept silence, and the general 
and his friends had the satisfaction of seeing one 
local lion after another enter the ballroom in 
close-fitting white silk hose with red tassels at 
the knees. 

The ordinary soldier and the lower officers 
filled themselves with wine and German beer, and 
pulled the maids about until they fled in their 
heavy skirts. No one could resist the gallants, 
speaking the fine language of the ruling power, 
with such busy hands and so sure a grip of the 
figure, dancing and leaping as if they had springs 
in their legs. 


The fights were harder and the whole art of 
war more severe than in Italy. Nevertheless, one 
could long hear the melody of a polka amid the 
bustle of the war in the early German campaigns ; 
but it gradually ceased as the settlement with 
the princes became a settlement with the people. 
Napoleon now knew that he could beat the 
Russians or the Germans, whatever they might 
call themselves. He made little distinction 
between the various Germanic peoples. Their 
racial differences were immaterial to him. Hence, 
when he had taken the power away from the 
reigning prince, he chose auxiliary troops from the 
beaten army, gave them French officers, and let 
them march and fight with his own soldiers. It 
was fortunate that many of the inhabitants of 
the borderlands and almost all the German officers, 
at least those of higher rank, knew a little French. 
Napoleon saw no danger in it, and when, in 1813, 
these troops returned to their own powers a 
matter which can hardly surprise us Napoleon 
thought it the blackest treachery. 

He had himself no strong f eeling of nationality. 
He was no more French than the Norwegians 
were Danes when, as did Tordenskjold, Rye, 
Helgesen, and Schleppegrell, they went to the 
assistance of Denmark. Nevertheless, apart from 
the fact that Norway was always above every- 
thing else in their minds, the long period of 
union had engendered a more patriotic feeling 
toward Denmark in Norwegians than one could 
expect in an entirely Italian race, that had lived 


only a comparatively short time on the island of 
Corsica, which in turn was only for a short time, 
and against its will, brought under French rule. 
Napoleon's national feeling was really a natural 
consciousness that he was the greatest son of the 
greatest nation, and that what he did for other 
nations was the best they could receive, because 
it was French. He knew no love of country 
apart from and beyond his own person. He did 
not know that there is a patriotism beyond the 
range of reason, a peculiar love of one's own 
country that would rather fight and perish any 
day than receive even the best conditions from 
the hand of a foreigner. 

When there was question of an invasion of 
England, which many think was never seriously 
intended, Napoleon faced all kinds of difficulties 
and made all kinds of preparations on land and 
sea. But he did not reckon with the English 
nation. He was hardly able to imagine what 
would happen if an enemy were to march upon 
London. Napoleon's experience had been built 
up on the level continent, where the frontiers of 
the countries had been shifted backwards and 
forwards in the extravagant wars of princes. 
Hence Spain, on which he now threw himself, was 
a fatal enigma to him, and he wore himself out 
in a fruitless endeavour to solve it. The Spaniards 
had been a hundred years before a nation that 
would rather die than surrender. 

It is quite true that, under exceptionally bad 
rulers, Spain had made a most foolish declaration 


of war upon France before the battle of Jena. 
But it is just as certain that, when the Spanish 
pretence of war had been at once crushed out, 
Napoleon interfered most unjustly in Spanish 
affairs. His aim was clear enough. He wanted 
the crown of Spain for some member of his own 
family, and at the same time to reach through 
Spain his worst enemy, England, which had made 
a sort of market of Portugal. 

General Junot was therefore ordered to march 
peacefully through Spain and besiege Lisbon. 
Junot was not a distinguished general and still 
less a diplomatist. The important commission 
was entrusted to him mainly because Napoleon 
knew that he would carry out any order, however, 
difficult, with the most uncalculating courage. 
He took Portugal in a month, and reached Lisbon, 
as he was directed to do, on November 30th, 1807, 
with the remains of his army, which he had worn 
out with marches and fights. As he approached, 
the royal house of Portugal, the Braganza family, 
went on board the fleet with the court and immense 
wealth and sailed to the empire of Brazil. 
Napoleon made Junot Duke of Abrantes, after a 
battle he had fought in Portugal. He had 
marched peacefully through Spain, as if the war 
with it was over. It was the same with the 
70,000 men that the Emperor sent after Junot to 
Portugal in 1806. However, these troops, com- 
manded by Marshal Moncey, Duke of Conegliano, 
and General Dupont, were suddenly directed to 
fall on the Spanish towns and fortresses. 


On June 6th, 1808, Joseph Bonaparte was 
proclaimed King of Spain. He had hitherto 
amused himself so well as king of the gay Neapoli- 
tans, at a safe distance from his restless brother, 
that he was not particularly pleased with a 
promotion that put him on the ancient and 
unfamiliar throne of Spain, and events justified 
his concern. The shrewd General Exelmans 
knew the Spanish nation better than Napoleon did, 
and he had endeavoured to make him understand 
that this was the worst conceivable way of treating 
the Spaniards ; but no one would listen to him. 
The result was that the whole of Spain offered a 
resistance that had the character of a revolution 
from the first. It was a revolt against a king 
imposed on them by a foreign power. From this 
moment began the bitter struggle between French 
and Spaniards, that went on without interruption 
until the fall of Napoleon. 

The radical differences between the Spanish 
wars and the open campaigns in Italy and Germany 
where the French generals had hitherto conquered, 
was due firstly to the natural character of the 
country, which offered better opportunities for 
small fights, surprises, and descents. Then there 
was the circumstance that the war was a general 
rising of the people. The haughty nation took 
part in it to a man indeed, to a woman. They 
fought in bands, and by ambush and assassination. 
More French soldiers were killed in this way than 
in the pitched battles. Another feature that gave 
the Spanish wars a unique complexion was the 


levity with which the French troops were wont 
to regard the women in conquered territory as so 
much booty. The Spanish women declined to 
see this, and what the French had begun almost 
in jest, soon assumed the most alarming pro- 
portions on account of the unexpected resistance, 
and at last it degenerated into violence and 
shameful abuse on the part of the conquerors. 

The rage of the Spaniards was unbounded. 
They continued the scattered fight with cold- 
blooded ferocity, and punished, maltreated, and 
mutilated their prisoners. No isolated Frenchman 
was safe in Spain. When the troops marched 
onward, they found the corpses of their comrades 
hanging along the streets, naked and mutilated ; 
and the nature of the mutilation clearly indicated 
that this was vengeance for the treatment of 
their women. 

The worst of all was that the French arms 
met with a serious reverse from the outset. A 
French corps under General Dupont advanced 
along the Andujar. Dupont belonged to an old 
family of officers, and had narrowly escaped the 
guillotine. Carnot had had him installed in the 
topographical department of the Ministry of War 
together with Clarke, but he had a command as 
early as Marengo, and was the officer who 
conducted the negotiations with General Melas 
after the battle. He had served under Marshal 
Mortier at Diirnstein, and after Friedland he 
received on the field the broad ribbon of the Legion 
of Honour. He was, therefore, one of the chief 


generals, and the Emperor had confidence in him. 
One day in June, 1808, he was opposed with a 
small part of his corps to the Spanish General 
Reding, a Swiss by birth, at Baylen. One of 
Dupont's generals, Gobert, fell in a skirmish, and 
his successor, Dufour, a good general, who after- 
wards fell at Beresina, was not prepared and not 
at his post. Other accidents happened. Orderlies 
went astray ; commands were intercepted by the 
enemy, and this gave rise to misunderstandings 
and a number of bad manoeuvres. In addition, 
the heat was extraordinary, and General Dupont 
was ill. 

General Reding profited so well by all this 
that he compelled Dupont to seek an armistice 
after an unequal fight on June 20th. But Reding 
was attacked from another side at the same time 
by General Wedel. He was between Dupont and 
Wedel, and would have been crushed if he had 
not succeeded in inducing Dupont to inform 
Wedel by an orderly of the armistice. Thus 
Wedel was forced to desist from attacking, and 
let slip a Spanish regiment that he might have 
captured. But while Wedel was still fighting, 
one of Dupont's adjutants, Villoutrai, who had 
completely misunderstood his commands, had 
brought news of the armistice, out of consideration 
for General Castanos, who was still a long way off. 
Castanos advanced by forced marches to Baylen, 
and the situation became so desperate with his 
arrival that the armistice was converted into a 
capitulation. Nor was this all. Generals Wedel 


and Dufour, hearing that Dupont had capitulated 
and marching on to reach Madrid, heard from 
Dupont by an adjutant after a day's march that 
their divisions were included in the capitulation. 
In a moment of incredible stupidity the generals 
obeyed, surrendered, and had their brave soldiers 
disarmed, and thrown into Spanish prisons. 

The whole army 21,000 men, with 40 guns 
and 2,400 cavalry became prisoners of war. Very 
few of these fine soldiers ever reached France 
again. Most of them met their death by hunger 
and filth and ill treatment in the horrible prisons 
of Spain. As was usually done perhaps especially 
in Spain the higher officers had collected an 
immense amount of booty, which was amongst the 
baggage of the army. It has been hinted that 
the generals thought more of their valuable spoil 
than they ought to have done. But when the 
soldiers saw that their poor knapsacks were to 
be searched they handed over to the officers the 
driving of the waggons, in which there were 
great quantities of pictures and other valuables 
taken from churches and castles. 

It was the greatest blow that the French 
army ever experienced under Napoleon. He 
heard the news at Bordeaux on August 1st, and 
his pain and anger were unbounded. * Would 
that I could wipe out the disgrace with my 
blood,' he exclaimed. The celebrated engineer- 
general Marescot and General Prive had protested 
against the capitulation, and could not be included 
in the infamy of it. General Prive was detained 


in England until 1814, and Dupont was imprisoned. 
His case was never concluded, as far as I can 
learn ; but after 1814 he received fresh honours 
and dignity under the Bourbons. 

When the Baylen capitulation was known 
throughout Spain, it made a deep impression. 
The bubble of French invincibility was pricked, 
as it were, and the revolution could not be sup- 
pressed. Joseph had to fly from Madrid after 
being King of Spain for eight days. The 
misfortunes of France in Spain were completed 
in 1808 when Wellesley landed to the north of 
Lisbon with an English army, joined the Portu- 
guese, and marched on Vimeiro with a force of 
26,000 men. The intrepid Junot did not budge 
a step, but opposed the advance of the enemy 
with his 10,000 men. He fought for five hours 
and lost the battle, but his position remained so 
strong that the English general offered him 
honourable terms, and the capitulation was con- 
cluded in the famous monastery at Cintra near 
Lisbon. Junot 's army with all arms and stores 
was sent in English ships to France, so that he 
and his men left the Peninsula without disgrace. 

However, coming after the Baylen scandal, 
the Cintra capitulation put the French in a 
desperate position, and the English, who remained 
in Portugal, were greeted as friends and allies by 
the Spaniards. After a short time the Spanish 
nation, which might have entered into an alliance 
with the French by a rational and considerate 
treatment, to drive the English invaders out of 


the Peninsula, joined with the English in 
antagonism to Napoleon. 

When Napoleon and Alexander met at Tilsit 
in July, 1807, they had both expressed a wish to 
meet again before the end of the year. Affairs 
in Spain, and the presence of the English army in 
Portugal made a meeting more than advisable 
for Napoleon. Prussia's fate was to be decided. 
Austria was making strenuous preparations, and 
had reorganised its reserve. When Napoleon 
went to Erfurt for the promised interview in July, 
1808, his forces were as follows, according to a 
letter to his brother Joseph : ' I have one army 
at Passau, one at Warschau, one in Schleswig, 
one at Hamburg, one at Berlin, one at Boulogne, 
and one marching against Portugal. I am 
collecting a reserve army at Boulogne, I have 
another in Italy, another in Dalmatia, and another 
at Naples. And there are garrisons all along the 

All the German princes, except the King of 
Prussia and the Emperor of Austria were at 
Erfurt. Baron Vincent came, as representative, 
with an excuse for the latter. The truth was 
that the Emperor was concerned to see Napoleon 
caring about nobody but the Tsar, and the two 
arranging the affairs of Europe without inviting 
him. Moreover, Austria was fully occupied just 
then with its own organisation. 

During the fortnight they were together at 
Erfurt, the two Emperors had most intimate 
conversations, and it seemed to everybody that 


the Russian autocrat was proud of the 
consideration and friendship with which Napoleon 
treated him. ' The friendship of a great man is 
a gift of the gods,' was said one night from the 
stage, where Talma and the other actors from the 
Theatre Frangais were playing tragedies. Alex- 
ander grasped Napoleon's hand and said with 
some warmth : ' I feel that every day.' Napoleon 
was as generous as ever. He presented the 
Grand Duke Constantine with a very valuable 
sword, and gave his own to Emperor Alexander. 
As he took the weapon, the Tsar said : ' I accept 
this token of friendship, and your Majesty may 
be quite sure that I will never draw it against 
you.' They parted on October 14th, the one 
going to his kingdom in the east, the other to the 
west, and they never saw sach other again. 

It has been stated that Napoleon's ultimate 
aim in all his wars was universal peace. That 
may be true in the sense that he certainly aimed 
at bringing about a state of things in which all 
the others would be on the floor, and he would be 
recognised as the greatest of all. The princes he 
met were personally inferior to him, and their 
enforced recognition had little value in his eyes. 
He cared little about England. It was not a 
kingdom in his opinion. But to win Russia's 
mighty Tsar was an object worth seeking. He 
was prepared to divide the world with him. He 
therefore gave greater attention to winning him 
than he had ever done in regard to anyone else. 
With his great superior mind, his knowledge, and 


the amiability that he really had, he overshadowed 
the younger man. The Tsar would have had to 
be of marble for all this to make no impression on 
him. Whereas Alexander I was in some respects 
very sensitive and easy to move. 

Yet it was Napoleon who was duped. Not 
that the other man could have hoodwinked him. 
Napoleon was cunning enough to scent duplicity 
at any distance. But there is a great difference 
between what we may call Napoleon's occasional 
deceptiveness and the Asiatic form of absolute 
and unvarying duplicity that had been impressed 
in the training of the young prince and was the 
chief prerogative of the mature ruler. Alexander 
might be caught and enchanted, and he might 
mean every word that he said. But it was not 
associated in him with the least particle of what 
we call duty, to say nothing of his altering his 
opinion of Napoleon, or forgetting for a second 
that this enchanting individual was merely a 
Corsican adventurer of the name of Bonaparte, 
on whose neck he would one day set his stout 
Russian boot. 

The more the King of Saxony approached him, 
and the smaller German princes humbled them- 
selves before him, the more Napoleon attracted 
the young Tsar. He made no vain comparison 
of his power with that of the other monarch. It 
was enough for him as the elder to eclipse the 
younger man with his personal superiority. With 
Alexander, and recognised by him, he would 
renounce further plans, and, once England was 


shattered, each would possess his half of the 
world in peace. Meantime, Russia was to take 
Finland, and France the Spanish Peninsula. 

On October 19th, Napoleon was back at 
St. Cloud. A few days afterwards he made a 
speech at the opening of the Legislative Assembly, 
in which he said : ' I set out for Spain in a few 
days to put myself at the head of my army, 
crown my brother King of Spain at Madrid, and 
plant our nobility in the fortresses of Portugal. 
The Emperor of Russia and I have been together 
at Erfurt. We are at one and indissolubly joined 
in war and peace. ' He entered Spain on November 
4th, 1808, and victory at once followed in his 
steps. Joseph met his brother, and joined the 
march on Madrid. Many of Napoleon's best 
generals were then in Spain, and in time they 
nearly all came. Davoust was spared, but Suchet, 
Soult, Ney, Massena, Victor, and Marmont, were 
all called into the war, and few came out of it 
without hurt. 

At Somo Sierra the army corps to which the 
Emperor was attached had a fierce and famous 
fight. General Victor, who had been made 
marshal and Duke of Belluno after the battle 
of Friedland, was at the foot of the pass of Somo 
Sierra. It was protected by redoubts, in which 
there were 16 guns, while 10,000 infantry were 
distributed over the rising ground on each side 
of the narrow pass. They were commanded by 
General San-Benito. The position seemed impreg- 
nable for any troops but a numerous infantry 


with great staying power. But after a few attacks 
had failed, Napoleon became impatient. He 
ordered General Montbrun to take the position 
with the Polish lancers that he commanded, and 
that belonged to the Emperor's own guard. 

It was an unheard-of thing to send cavalry 
against such a position, but the Emperor was 
impatient, and he knew that there were no better 
troops than the Poles to do it, if it were to be 
done. They did not fail him, but rushed forward. 
They ran their horses up the mountain, and 
leaped over the redoubts. The Spanish artillery- 
men were cut down at the guns, and, though 
with heavy losses, Montbrun succeeded in driving 
the enemy from the pass, and the army could 
advance. A large number of prisoners and stores 
were taken. 

When the Polish lancers advanced to the 
attack, they were followed by the young Segur. 
His place was in the immediate vicinity of the 
Emperor, acting as adjutant on tour and as an 
officer of the palace at home. The Emperor 
ordered him to take the place of an officer who 
had fallen, and thus he came to take part in the 
battle, which is regarded as a very remarkable 
piece of cavalry work. He was so severely 
wounded that he very narrowly escaped death. 
Afterwards he was liberally rewarded. He 
followed the Emperor as a general to the end, and 
died at the age of 91, in 1871. It is he who has 
written the excellent memoirs which have made 
famous the Russian campaign. His father had 


been in the service of Catherine II of Russia, and 
afterwards entered that of Napoleon, acting as 
head marshal of the court and master of ceremonies 
at the Tuileries. Napoleon was very proud of 

The Emperor was not generous to the Poles. 
Not that he used them hardly in his service, or 
slighted them. On the contrary, the attack on 
Somo Sierra was, and would certainly continue 
to be, regarded on both sides as a compliment. 
Many of the Polish officers rose to high positions. 
There were several generals amongst them, such 
as Prince Poniatowski, who was marshal only 
for a few days before he fell at Leipsic. General 
Dombrowski led the Poles into Russia, and in 
his early years one of Napoleon's favourite 
adjutants was the Pole Sulkowski, who fell in 
Egypt. But on the political side Napoleon 
gravely deceived the Poles. He understood well 
that they were not a people out of which he could 
make a kingdom for a Bonaparte, that would obey 
all orders emanating from Paris ; and that was 
what he wanted. Moreover, he did not want to 
act contrary to the wishes of his friend the Tsar. 
The intense love of the Poles for liberty and their 
burning hatred of tyrants were by no means to 
his taste. Hence it was that he never realised 
their constant dream of a Polish kingdom. He 
accepted their services, and held them with hints 
and half-promises, but never went any further. 

After the battle of Somo Sierra Napoleon was 
free to march on Madrid, which he could easily 


have taken by force. But he saw that it would 
be a bad beginning to set up Joseph by force in 
a kingdom with a pillaged capital. He took his 
time, therefore, and surrounded the city, which 
surrendered of itself. With a good deal of trouble 
the Spanish officials succeeded in keeping the 
people sufficiently in hand to permit the rein- 
statement of King Joseph in apparent tranquility. 
Napoleon issued high-toned proclamations to the 
Spanish nation, but they did not make the least 
impression. On the other hand he was himself 
greatly impressed with the fact that, in spite of 
their hostility to the French, the Spaniards were 
so honourable and loyal that King Joseph found 
his palace at Madrid intact, just as he had left it. 
Even the family portraits of the Bonaparte's, 
including David's famous picture of General 
Bonaparte on the Alps, were hanging in their 
places. Napoleon could not understand the 
national trait that made a compulsory king an 
object of hatred, yet left him safe in his chateau. 
If from the first Joseph had taken the place of 
the old and hated and disreputable royal house, 
without any use of force, all might have been well. 
Now it was too late. 

On December 22nd, Napoleon left Madrid for 
the purpose of personally conducting the war. It 
was mainly a war with the English, who had 
crossed the Duero, and were drawing near Valla- 
dolid. The Emperor left Marshals Victor and 
Lefebvre, and the cavalry-generals Lasalle, Mil- 
haud, and Latour-Maubourg to protect Joseph 


at Madrid. He immediately met with several 
mishaps. General Lefebvre - Desnouettes incau- 
tiously went with 400 dragoons across a ford 
with the object of occupying the village of 
Bonavente, which he thought to be deserted. 
Unfortunately, there were still 2,000 English 
cavalry there, and they threw themselves on the 
small detachment. Lefebvre-Desnouettes was 
wounded, and his horse shot under him. He fell 
into the water, and was captured. General 
August Colbert there were three brothers 
received the command of Lefebvre's troops, which 
formed part of Marshal Bessieres' cavalry of the 
advance guard. The young man fell two days 
afterwards. Before he died he said : ' I die like 
a brave soldier of the grand army, because I see 
before me the worst enemy of my country in 
flight. 5 He was one of the lions of the court ; 
one of the finest men in the army. 

Under the Emperor's lead Marshals Ney and 
Soult beat the English in a number of battles. 
General Moore fell, and General Baird was 
dangerously wounded on the del Curgo bridge 
before Corunna. It was to be expected that the 
war would soon end, under Napoleon's lead, with 
the re-occupation of the Peninsula and the 
destruction of the English. He was the only man 
who could handle several armies simultaneously 
and keep his eye on the generals. However, in 
the middle of January, 1809, he received such 
news from Paris at Valladolid, especially in regard 
to the hostile attitude of Austria, that he at 


once mounted his horse and left Spain to Joseph 
with Marshal Jourdan in supreme command. 
Napoleon's suddenly leaving his army in a hostile 
country recalled his abrupt departure from Egypt. 
When the same thing happened later in life, it 
made a great deal of bad blood amongst the 
officers. The soldiers never resented anything he 

There was one point that all aristocratic 
travellers hastened to write home to their circles 
namely, that Napoleon could not ride, did not 
sit well on horseback, cut a poor figure, and so 
on. There was a certain consolation in thinking 
that the man who towered above them in every- 
thing else could not compare with them in personal 
bearing, at least in the fine art of riding. The 
truth was that Napoleon was a careless rider, a 
man whose chief concern was through thick and 
thin to get to his destination as quickly as possible. 
He had never had time or inclination to study 
that demeanour on which the sons of princes set 
such store. It is a great strain for man and beast 
to sit faultlessly, without moving, on a horse for 
hours together, reviewing large masses of troops. 
The Emperor of Russia had a number of horses 
that were trained to stand as rigidly as if they 
were made of bronze. But Napoleon was always 
moving. Even during a review he was here 
and there and everywhere, because he had to 
see everything, and his thoughts were on what 
he saw, and he did not care a jot how he himself 
looked. Hence strangers who saw the little man 


in the grey coat on his noble horse, without giving 
a moment's thought to the animal or to the art 
of riding, found that he was a poor horseman. 
But when there was question of crossing a dan- 
gerous country, or of endurance, there were few 
in Europe who could ride like him. On January 
16th he rode at a sharp gallop from Valladolid 
to Burgos, which he had quitted the same morning 
23 miles in five hours from there, without 
leaving the carriage, he drove to Bayonne, and then 
on to Paris, where he arrived quite alone ; no one 
had been able to keep up with him. On the 
evening of January 23rd his carriage entered the 
Tuileries, and the following morning Paris was 
astounded to learn from the Moniteur that 
Napoleon had returned from Spain. 

Austria had been quiet for four years. But 
it could never lose its hatred of the arrogant son 
of the Revolution, who had annihilated its armies, 
and taken his place amongst the sovereigns of 
Europe. Moreover, money and entreaties came 
from England, and these were redoubled when 
the Emperor promised to succeed in driving the 
English out of the Peninsula. Thus, when Austria 
caused Napoleon to leave Spain on account of 
its menacing attitude, it did a great service to 
England, while the Emperor Francis Joseph was 
left to pay dearly for his imprudent declaration 
of war. 

The Austrians had gathered a large and 
superior army of nearly 300,000 men, and they had 
at least one of the chief commanders of the time, 


the Archduke Charles. The troops were in Poland, 
Saxony, Tyrol, and Italy, under the Archdukes 
Charles, Ferdinand, and John, and Generals 
Kolowrat, Bellegarde, and Hiller. The French 
fighting forces were distributed under Poniatowsld 
in Poland, Bernadotte in Saxony, General Gratien 
in Holland, and King Jerome in Westphalia. 
These were really reserve troops. The chief army, 
which was under the immediate command of the 
Emperor, consisted of the corps of Lannes and 
Oudinot, the third corps under Davoust at 
Regensburg, and the fourth under Massena at 
Ulm. The seventh corps, consisting of 30,000 
Bavarians under the Duke of Dantzig, was at. 
Munich. The eighth, under Vandamme, was 
made up of 12,000 Wiirtembergers and 12,000 
other German soldiers. Macdonald and Marmont 
advanced northwards from Italy. Altogether 
there were 267,000 men. 

At last, after many bitter words and tedious 
intrigues, Napoleon learned on the evening of 
April 12th that the Archduke Charles had crossed 
the Inn. On the 17th Napoleon fixed his head- 
quarters at Donauworth. From the very 
beginning of this campaign there was scarcely a 
day on which one or other of the French generals 
did not distinguish himself, and the tide of war 
rolled steadily eastwards toward Vienna, some of 
the battles being great and sanguinary. At 
Abensberg Napoleon left it chiefly to the Bavarians 
and Wiirtembergers to defeat the Austrians under 
General Hiller ; and under the command of 


Davoust, Lannes, and Vandamme, they won a 
decisive victory. Marshal Davoust, who was 
already Duke of Auerstadt, was made Prince of 
Eckmiihl, a small village near Regensburg, where 
he annihilated the army-corps of the Archduke 
Charles in a fierce three hours' battle, and opened 
the way to Vienna. General Cervoni, who came 
of an Italian family, was killed while he was 
spreading out a map before the Emperor. General 
Clement lost an arm at Eckmiihl. 

Napoleon was wounded at Regensburg for the 
only time in his life. He received a slight 
laceration of the heel. The King of Bavaria, whom 
the Austrians had driven from Munich, returned 
to his capital in triumph. The French armies then 
converged on Vienna, driving the enemy before 
them. Napoleon was marching for the first time 
without his Guard. He had been pleased to keep 
the Bavarians and Wtirtembergers near him, to 
reward them for Abensberg and attach them more 
closely to his person. At nine o'clock on May 
10th he reached the gates of Vienna. As the city 
was not surrendered for some time, he on the 
evening of the llth caused a battery of fifteen 
guns to throw 1,800 bombs into it, and they at 
once set fire to it in different places. It capitulated 
on the morning of May 12th, and General 
Andreossy was appointed Governor. 

After the taking of Vienna, it was neces- 
sary to cross the Danube, where the enemy 
were still drawn up for battle under the Arch- 
duke and General Hiller. Four bridges were used 


for crossing the river, as there were several 
islands to be passed, the last being separated 
from the left bank by an arm of the river some 
three or four hundred feet wide. The work began 
under the direction of engineer-generals Pernetti 
and Bernard. The latter was not yet so famous 
as he afterwards became, and was not considered 
so distinguished an engineer as Lariboisiere, 
Chasseloup, Marescot, and Haxo, or as the great 
Eble, who made the bridges over the Beresina. 
On May 19th Napoleon ordered the pontoons to be 
put together and the bridges made. Massena 
crossed it on the 20th with Molitor's division. 
He drove the Austrians out of the island after 
two hours' fighting, and by twelve o'clock he had 
the whole of the fourth corps on it. It is fairly 
large, and was at that time overgrown with 
bushes and intersected with ditches. 

On the evening of May 20th Napoleon 
matured his plan of crossing the last arm of the 
river early the following morning and attacking 
the villages of Aspern and Esslingen. Neither he 
nor anyone else suspected that the Archduke 
Charles and General Hiller had entrenched them- 
selves so strongly in these positions that the 
French had to fight two very critical battles 
before they could get a safe footing on the left 
bank ; and even then they only half succeeded. 
On the evening of the 20th the officers and soldiers 
sat round the camp fires and were chatting gaily 
as was usual on the night before a battle. A 
young officer named Albuquerque of a Spanish 


family had come with Lannes' troops from 
Spain. He had been fortunate enough to receive 
the sword of the brave General Palafox, when he 
surrendered Saragossa. He now sat and sang 
gay and sentimental Spanish songs to his comrades, 
who knew his fine voice and gathered round his 
fire. He fell at Aspern the following afternoon. 

On the following morning, while Napoleon's 
troops were in the act of crossing the bridge, the 
enemy deployed all his forces, and attacked with 
a superior force the divisions that had crossed 
over. The battle centred about the two villages, 
which passed alternately to one or other party five 
or six times in the course of the day. Massena 
was engaged at Aspern and Lannes at Esslingen. 
The French were outnumbered, but they were 
the best soldiers in Europe, and they kept off the 
enemy until dark came on. Marshal Bessieres 
had exposed his cavalry to fire, and they had done 
wonders of bravery, but had also suffered a great 
loss in the death of General d'Espagne, one of the 
finest cavalry leaders, and three colonels. In the 
awful night between the 21st and 22nd of May, 
Massena camped in the ruins of the burning 
village of Aspern, the Austrians under Bellegarde 
holding the church and churchyard in the same 
village. But both armies were overcome with 
fatigue, and they allowed each other a few hours' 

In the midst of the battle there was a heated 
private quarrel between Marshals Bessieres and 
Lannes. By the Emperor's orders, Bessieres's 


cavalry was at the disposal of Lannes, so that the 
former was, to some extent, under the supreme 
command of Lannes, and he found this intolerable. 
A violent quarrel broke out between them, and 
they very nearly came to fight a duel that evening. 
The armies had not a long sleep. At two in 
the morning the Austrians began to stir. Napoleon 
sent adjutants incessantly to the other army-corps 
which were still on the island and on the right 
bank, directing them to cross over as quickly as 
possible. Meantime, the bridges themselves were 
in the greatest danger. The Austrians filled boats 
with heavy stones, and flung mills and mill-wheels 
and anything that could float into the river above 
the bridge. The mass was carried down by the 
current, and borne against the French bridges, 
bringing great pressure to bear on the piles and 
pontoons. In the early morning Marshal Davoust 
rode alone across the bridge to tell the Emperor 
that his men would soon be there. Some of them 
had already arrived, and were fighting with the 
heroes of the preceding day. Napoleon therefore 
began the day with full confidence, though the 
Archduke was again pressing forward his superior 
forces with great energy. The French stood as 
firm as they had done the day before. 

Napoleon then, relying confidently on the 
closeness of reinforcements, commanded an 
advance, and directed his marshals to break 
through the Austrian centre and hurl them back 
on to the plains. This manoeuvre, which they 
knew well from many of his earlier battles, was 


at once and so brilliantly carried out that a broad 
and dangerous gap appeared in the enemy's 
fighting-line. Archduke Charles seized the flag 
of General Zach's regiment to lead his troops 
forward once more. He exposed himself as boldly 
as the bravest soldier amongst them, but he was 
borne back in the retreating masses of the army. 
Napoleon also was so imprudent on that day that 
General Walther, who had to guard him with the 
grenadiers, went up to him and said : ' If your 
Majesty does not withdraw I shall order my 
grenadiers to remove you by force.' 

It was still no later than eight o'clock in the 
morning, and Napoleon was quite sure of seeing 
Davoust's columns come over the bridge any 
moment. Then came the news that the largest 
bridge had broken down. Quietly, without a 
word of impatience, he saw the certain victory 
slip from his hands. He directed Lannes to 
suspend the attack, whilst he got more detailed 
information. The news he heard soon convinced 
him that for that day he could not possibly expect 
any help from the other side of the Danube, and 
he had no more ammunition on his own side. 
The Austrians had succeeded in floating so much 
stuff against the longest bridge that the current 
at length broke it in the middle. The Archduke 
was not long in learning that Napoleon was more 
or less isolated. He gathered his men, who were 
subjected to no further attacks, and there ensued 
one of the fiercest struggles that was ever witnessed. 
It lasted twelve hours, and was confined to one 


comparatively small field. The French defended 
themselves all day long with incredible bravery, 
and an unusually large number of officers fell. 
Amongst them was General Saint-Hilaire, one of 
the most important. He had received the grand 
eagle of the Legion of Honour and the cross of a 
Commander of the Iron Crown at Austerlitz. A 
worse loss was that of Marshal Lannes himself, 
the Duke of Montebello. His adjutants had 
succeeded in inducing him to dismount for a 
moment and stretch his legs, when a cannon ball 
broke both his knees. He lived for a few days 
in great pain, and died on May 30th. 

Lannes was one of the best friends of 
Napoleon's youth and the most important of all. 
The writers who have sought to make everything 
about Napoleon as bad as possible, have tried to re- 
present the relations between Lannes and Napoleon 
as anything but friendly. It is quite possible 
that he said some very straight things to Napoleon 
at times, and did not mince matters with him. 
Napoleon was not the kind of man that one could 
feel very tender towards ; even in his relations 
with his intimate friends he preserved the coldness 
that he always deliberately cultivated. But when 
he heaped gratitude, praise, and rewards on them, 
they knew it, and they saw from a single look or a 
smile that he was a true friend of theirs. The 
Emperor never mentioned Lannes without warmly 
praising his fine qualities, and he missed the man 
all his life. 


After the frightful battle of Aspern and 
Esslingen, which is generally regarded as the 
Archduke Charles's greatest victory, General 
Mouton received the title of Count of Lobau, with 
rich awards, for his coolness and unflinching 
bravery. The Emperor was quiet and cool, as 
usual, when he summoned his marshals to a council 
in the evening. They all advised that the army 
be brought into safety on the right bank of the 
Danube. But it was impossible for him to retreat 
so far. He could not be induced to go farther 
than the island of Lobau. Orders were issued to 
begin the crossing as soon as the short bridge to 
Lobau was ready. But the villages were to be 
held as long as possible in order to deceive the 
enemy. During the night Napoleon rowed across 
the Danube with Berthier, to console Davoust 
and the other generals, who had been condemned 
to inaction during the great battle. 

At two in the morning the Guard began to 
pass quietly ever the short bridge to Lobau. 
After them came the cavalry and Oudinot's 
grenadiers, and before it was quite daylight every- 
thing had been got across the single bridge to 
Lobau. They had then to make a better bridge 
over the river, and the best engineers in the army 
worked for forty-three days to prepare the piles, 
etc., for the crossing of 160,000 men with all their 
appurtenances. In the meantime the camp on 
Lobau was converted into one of the strongest 
positions in Europe, and French armies were 
converging upon it from all sides. A number of 


honourable fights were engaged in at the same 
time by Napoleon's generals, while he himself 
kept court at Schonbrunn. 

The engineers had their work, which was 
regarded as a masterpiece in those days, ready 
in the early days of July. Three bridges, as 
broad as columns of troops, so that three waggons 
could pass each other on them, led from the right 
bank over the small island to Lobau. The 
bridges that were to lead from this point to the 
left bank were ready to be thrown over the left 
arm of the river at a given moment. The whole 
was protected by a palisade-work that ran out 
to a point up the stream from one of the small 
islands. Right across the island of Lobau there 
was a forty-foot wide road made, running out on 
a mole ; and on this road and on the bridges 
lanterns were set up every 60 feet. At each 
crossing there were sign-posts with orders for each 

Men now poured in from all quarters, and 
soldiers of every corps in the grand army, who had 
fought all over Europe, met on Lobau. At night- 
fall on July 3rd they sat round the bivouac fires ; 
comrades, friends, and relatives, who had not seen 
each other for six years, found each other again 
in the crowd. Besides Massena, Davoust, and 
Oudinot, the Viceroy Eugene came from the Tyrol, 
Marmont from Italy, Bernadotte, Vandamme, 
and Lefebvre, King Jerome from Dresden, and 
Junot from Bayreuth. 


On July 4th, the order to cross was given. 
A number of small bridges that stood ready were 
thrown over the remaining narrow arm of the 
river to the left bank. One of them was an 
especial object of admiration. It consisted of a 
single piece and was placed in from eight to ten 
minutes. In the evening occurred one of the 
most frightful storms ever experienced. Wind 
and rain lashed the whole island with great violence 
and in the midst of it broke out the roar of the 
guns that were to protect the crossing. But 
nothing could hold them or damp their ardour. 
One corps after another began its march over the 
bridges and islands into the darkness and storm. 
The Emperor was on horseback all night. It was 
calculated that he spent 60 hours in the saddle 
between the 4th and 6th of July. 

On the following morning the vast army was 
across, and when the sun rose it shone on the 
spreading masses of the French drawn up in line 
of battle in all their splendour. That day the 
Archduke Charles retreated. In the afternoon 
there was a fight at Wagram, in which General 
Macdonald distinguished himself with the army 
from Italy. Bernadotte, who commanded the 
Saxon auxiliaries, made a feeble and fruitless 
attack on the town of Wagram. His troops were 
beaten, and retreated in great disorder. The 
Archduke held the heights of Wagram and spent 
the night there. 

Early the next morning, July 7th, the day of 
the real battle of Wagram, the Austrians attacked 


the village of Aderklaa that Bernadotte was 
supposed to hold. Once more his Saxons fled in 
wild confusion, and the Archduke drove Napoleon's 
left wing so far back that the batteries on Lobau 
had to open fire to protect the bridges. Massena 
commanded the left wing, and had with him 
Generals Molitor, Legrand, and Boudet, with his 
fine artillery. General Carra Saint-Cyr was also 
with them. He was sent first to recover Aderklaa, 
but owing to an unskilful manoeuvre his troops 
fell into such a bad position that they were 
deprived of cover, and driven back, taking the whole 
of the left wing with them. Both Legrand and 
Boudet, who lost his beloved guns, were swept 
away. At this critical moment General Reille 
went to inform the Emperor that the Austrians 
threatened to overpower Massena, whose entire 
corps had been thrown into disorder. The 
Emperor sent Marshal Berthier with the Guard 
and 80 guns right across the field from right to 
left. He must have been reduced to extremities 
when he sent Berthier and the Guard. 

General Lauriston led the artillery and General 
Reille the young guard in the attack on Aderklaa, 
the chief point on the left wing. Marshal Bessi^res 
received a similar order, but at that moment 
he was struck by a very curious ball on the leg. 
It tore his trousers as far as the knees, and left 
a zig-zag mark on the leg. The Emperor heard 
that one of his friends had been hit, and had fallen 
from his horse. 


' Who is it ?' he asked, without turning. 

' The Duke of Istria,' was the reply. 

' Ride on,' said the Emperor ; ' we have no 
more time for weeping.' He was thinking of 

It is this moment in the battle of Wagram 
that we so often find represented in the photo- 
graphs of the great pictures at Versailles. Napoleon 
was that day riding one of his most famous 
horses. It was called ' Euphrates ' and was a 
present from the Shah of Persia. No one had 
ever seen so white a horse before in Europe. In 
the midst of the hottest fire he galloped on this 
horse right across the field, in front of the French 
lines, to the labouring left wing. Savary and the 
other generals, who followed him as well as they 
could, expected every moment to see him drop. 
The Emperor took up a position in Lamarque's 
division, and remained there a full hour while 
the left wing was being restored to order. He sat 
upright on his white horse amidst the shower of 
bullets, so that friend and foe could see him at 
the short distance that separated fighting armies 
in those days. 

Davoust was on the left wing, where he was 
opposed to Prince John of Liechtenstein. He was 
ordered to make a grand attack on the village 
of Neusiedel. With Davoust were the cavalry- 
generals Nansouty and Arrighi, Duke of Padua, 
who had taken the place of the fallen d'Espagne. 
The enemy slowly retreated before the skilful 
manoeuvres of the Duke of Auerstadt. The 


Emperor told his servant Roustan, a mameluke 
whom he had brought from Egypt, to spread a 
bear-skin on the ground. He dismounted, 
stretched himself on it, and went to sleep, as he 
was accustomed to do. He had every right to be 
tired. When he awoke, a quarter of an hour 
afterwards, he found a circle of adjutants with 
reports from all parts of the field. He arose 
quietly and turned his telescope on Neusiedel ; 
when he saw that Davoust's troops were on the 
heights, where he wanted them to be, he pushed 
in his telescope again, and said to his adjutants : 
' Ride to Mass6na and tell him he may withdraw. 
The battle is won.' The fight raged until one in 
the afternoon on the great plains, where the 
horses nearly disappeared in the high corn. At 
the edge of the battlefield the ripe corn was set 
on fire. Whole acres of it were burning, and the 
fire reached the well-protected train, and exploded 
many of the powder waggons. 

Macdonald was the real hero of the day. He 
at length succeeded in breaking the centre and 
making a gap in it that offered a fine opportunity 
for the cavalry to rush in and take prisoners and 
spoils. But Murat was in Spain, Bessieres 
wounded, d'Espagne dead, and, to crown the 
misfortune, General Lasalle, the greatest cavalry- 
leader that Napoleon had left, also fell on this day. 
Lasalle was one of the most handsome men in the 
French army, and a trained horseman from his 
early years, but he had grown rather wild in the 
course of time. He swore and drank, sang and 


rioted, and wasted all his money. When he was 
in Egypt he corresponded with a lady at Paris. 
The English intercepted his letters, and, with 
the incredible lack of taste that they showed in 
all that related to Napoleon, they published them 
in the European press. The lady was married to 
a brother of General Berthier, and the publication 
of the letters caused a fearful scandal, followed by 
divorce, etc., at Paris. However, Lasalle after- 
wards married Mme. Berthier, and gradually 
reached so high a rank that he became one of the 
men who were most trusted and most frequently 
employed by the Emperor. He was exceptionally 
liked by his comrades. When he swung into his 
saddle and drew his sabre, his men would follow 
him like the wind over stock and stone, through 
fire and blood. But there was a wild spirit in 
the light cavalry long after Lasalle's death. 

The night before the battle of Wagram 
General Lasalle had written a letter to the Emperor 
asking him to take care of the family he would 
leave behind him. It often happened that even 
the bravest had these fits of despondency before 
a great battle, and wrote letters that had the 
nature of presentiments if the writer fell. 

The loss of officers was great on both sides 
at Wagram. The French lost Generals Gauthier 
and Lacour, besides Lasalle, and seven colonels. 
Gauthier had distinguished himself under Davoust 
at Auerstadt. At Wagram he lost a leg, and died 
of the wound. General Gudin, who kept quite 
close to Davoust, and always fought under him, 


received four wounds in the course of the day. 
Twenty other generals, besides Bessieres, were 
wounded, but recovered. General Lamarque had 
four horses shot under him. Massena, on the 
other hand, who was perhaps most exposed of 
all to the enemy's fire in these days, did not receive 
the slightest scratch. It was said in the army 
that Massena, and Murat, and Ney, were bullet- 
proof. But it was considered dangerous to be 
near Massena. The very spot that he had just 
left was shunned. If any one came up and 
occupied it, they would shout to him that the 
marshal had just been there. 

A few days before the battle Massena had 
the misfortune to collide with a waggon during a 
reconnaissance. He was so badly shaken that he 
could not keep his horse during the battle, and 
had to lead his corps in a carriage. But when 
the left wing was n a dangerous plight he took 
to horse in spite of the pain. He called one of 
his orderlies to lengthen the stirrup, and by this 
means lifted his injured leg, with a great effort, 
on to the horse's neck. At that very moment 
a cannon-ball came singing along and knocked 
down the soldier who was busy with his saddle. 
Massena had begun his career as a private soldier 
in the republican armies, like Bernadotte and 
many others. But he was one of the greatest 
leaders, and Napoleon always described him as 
the first, although their relations were not particu- 
larly good. Massena was easily led into small 


intrigues with the other malcontents, and Napoleon 
was well acquainted with the fact, as well as with 
the circumstance that Massena was an incurable 
pillager wherever he went. After Eylau he had 
been made Duke of Rivoli, and he now became 
Prince of Esslingen. 

Napoleon embraced Macdonald, and made 
him Marshal and Duke of Tarentum, which was 
rather a tardy recognition of Macdonald' s deeds 
and merits. But it was some time before the 
Emperor came to trust entirely this man of 
Scottish descent, with his rather stiff and self- 
conscious ways. Napoleon never really liked him. 
Macdonald was fairly taU, and had an open and 
energetic countenance, though his nose was too 
short. At the battle of Wagram he wore the 
antiquated uniform of a republican general, with 
huge feathers in his hat. He distinguished himself 
wherever he went. Amongst other things he 
succeeded in arresting the flight of Bernadotte's 
Saxons, and inducing them to advance once more. 
Oudinot and Marmont also received the marshal's 
staff. It was, perhaps, a little premature for 
Marmont. But Napoleon appreciated the brave 
and brilliant Marmont in his cold and unemotional 

Bernadotte's corps was dissolved, and he 
himself was sent in disgrace from the army. The 
army bulletin of July 30th contains the following 
passage : ' The ninth army-corps, which was 
commanded by Ponte-Corvo, is dissolved. The 


Saxons who belonged to it pass under the command 
of General Regnier. The Prince of Ponte-Corvo 
has gone to the baths.' 

The fact was that Marshal Bernadotte had 
been exceptionally slipshod during the whole 
campaign of 1809. He is never mentioned 
amongst the generals whose bravery decided a 
great battle. But he continued just the same to 
swagger and to criticise the Emperor. The night 
before the battle he was sitting in a circle of 
officers, saying that Napoleon's crossing of the 
Danube and subsequent manoeuvres were quite 
wrong and unsuccessful. He himself would have 
forced the Archduke, by a few well-directed 
movements, to surrender almost without a fight. 
When his Saxons fled on the following day, and 
Bernadotte galloped after them, the Emperor 
stopped him and asked if this was the well-directed 
movement with which he would crush the Arch- 
duke. His spies had reported to him the 
conversation of the night before. It is certain, at 
all events, that Bernadotte's corps took to flight 
on July 5th at Wagram, and July 6th at Aderklaa, 
and Napoleon spoke sharply about him in the 
order of the day to his marshals. 

But that was not the worst. After he and 
his corps had done so badly in the battle, the 
Prince of Ponte Corvo had the impudence to issue 
an order of the day, a thing that was reserved for 
the commander-in-chief, and no marshal had a 
right to do. He sent out a proclamation in which 


he claimed the honours of the battle of Wagram 
for himself and his Saxons. The whole army, 
and especially the officers and the Emperor, were 
infuriated. He refused to see the marshal, and 
wrote to the Minister of War at Paris : ' If you 
have occasion to see the Prince of Ponte Corvo, 
inform him of my displeasure at the ridiculous 
order of the day that he had inserted in all the 
journals ; it is doubly incorrect, since he was 
complaining to me all day about his Saxons. 
I will not conceal from you the fact that the 
Prince of Ponte Corvo has deserved little praise 
during this campaign. To say the truth, this 
" granite column " has been always in flight.' 

The victory at Wagram was decisive enough, 
but it had been dearly bought, and there was not 
the usual corollary of prisoners, guns, flags, etc. 
The day of the good old bayonet-fights was over. 
The artillery had to work hard to support the 
new infantry columns, which were swollen with 
recruits and foreign auxiliaries. Hence it was 
that more officers fell than had been the case in 
earlier battles. Finally, it seemed to the Emperor 
for the first time that he perceived a certain 
amount of laxity in his highest generals. He was 
only moderately pleased with the battle. 

On the Austrian side three generals were 
killed and ten wounded, including the Archduke 
himself. He had not spared himself the whole 
day, and was hit twice. But he directed the fight 


to the end like the unflinching soldier and great 
leader that he was. The days of Aspern, Esslingen, 
and Wagram, showed what the brave Austrians 
could do when they were led by a great general. 

Napoleon held his court at Schonbrunn while 
the diplomatists were discussing the terms of 
peace. One day he was nearly murdered by a 
German fanatic of the name of Stabbs. He had 
drawn quite close to the Emperor during a parade, 
when General Rapp suddenly seized him at the 
last moment as a suspicious-looking individual- 
After the enormous strain at Esslingen and 
Wagram Napoleon had an attack of illness 
during his stay at Schonbrunn, but we know 
nothing of its nature. The high officers about 
him have never betrayed the secret, but we can 
gather that it was serious from the anxious 
deliberations of Murat, Berthier, and Duroc, and 
the haste with which they sent for Corvisart, the 
Emperor's physician, and a famous professor at 
Vienna. It may possibly have been only an 
exceptionally bad attack of dysury, from which 
he suffered as early as 1796, and at Borodino, 
where he was ill and kept out of sight of the army 
for several days. 

On October 19th peace was concluded at 
Vienna, under sufficiently humiliating conditions 
for Austria. Although he waged war for six years 
afterwards, and won most brilliant victories, this 
peace was the last that Napoleon ever effected. 


Europe never made peace with him. On October 
26th he returned to Fontainebleau, having won 
fresh victories for France and made his empire 
stronger than ever. 


In the years 1810 and 1811 Napoleon was 
ruling at Paris. It was, apparently at least, his 
zenith. The frontiers of France had been pushed 
to the mouth of the Elbe, and Rome was the 
second capital of the empire. The whole of 
Europe recognised his predominance, with the 
exception of England, which, in spite of the injury 
done to its trade by its exclusion from the continent, 
always had money for those who dared to resist 
Napoleon, and slowly and surely undermined his 
vast empire from the Spanish Peninsula, and 
enfeebled his fighting forces. 

The resistance of the Spaniards became more 
and more bitter and savage, while England poured 
fresh troops continually into Portugal. Marshal 
Soult, Duke of Dalmatia, imagined at one time 
that he would be King of Portugal. But Wellington 
drove him out of Oporto with such thoroughness 
that Soult lost the whole of his baggage. The 
news of this battle reached Napoleon the day 
after Aspern and Esslingen, through a courier that 
the Minister of War had hastily despatched from 


Paris. In the year 1810 there were 400,000 of 
the best French troops in Spain under leaders like 
Soult, Massena, Ney, Victor, and Suchet. The 
latter was the only one who was able to keep 
regular government in his province. There was 
no cohesion, and there were many accidents. In 
the course of time it came to be looked upon as 
a sort of banishment and a sign of disgrace when 
an officer at Paris was ordered to go to Spain. 

The handsome secretary and palace officer, 
Canouville, was one of Pauline's many lovers. 
Napoleon had sent her a Russian mantle of 
exceptionally fine fur and diamond clasps. One 
day, with the searching eyes that saw everything, 
he recognised his present in the secretary's ante- 
room. An hour later Canouville was on his way 
to Spain. It was somewhat different with Septeuil, 
another lion of the court. He declined to see 
Pauline's attempts to approach him, and she was 
so enraged that the young officer was sent to 
Spain at her request. He had one of his legs 
shot off in his first battle, and while the surgeons 
were amputating it sawing and hacking as they 
did a century ago he said to his valet : ' Don't 
cry. You will now have only one boot to polish.' 
The elaborate equipment of the French court, 
that the Revolution had scattered to the winds, 
had at last been restored under the Emperor. 
It took a very different form from that it had had 
under the old regime, but it was no less magnificent 
in regard to the correctness of etiquette and the 
lavish expenditure on festivities. Napoleon's new 


court was, of course, not filled with aged super- 
fluities and useless folk, who did nothing beyond 
drawing their salaries, as the earlier one had been. 
However, he revived many of the old titles and 
bestowed them on his own men and women ; or 
he attracted men and women with ancient names 
to his court, a thing that always gave him great 
satisfaction. He used to say that no one could 
render court-service like the old nobles. A 
Montmorency would not hestitate to stoop and 
tie Josephine's shoe-laces, but many of the new 
ladies had no mind for acting as chamber-maids 
in this way. He praised the men of the older 
nobility in the same way, and sent them on 
diplomatic missions. He used to say that he 
learned more through them than through his own 

At the same time he did not like his own 
people to be cast in the shade by the older nobles. 
He had some of the feeling of the Revolution, and 
rewarded merit without regard to origin. He 
mingled the old and the new, in order to bring 
about a harmonious system, but he took good 
care that one should not quarrel with the other. 
He was proud to have Count Segur, of the old 
nobility, as his master of ceremonies, yet he never 
liked even a hint to be given to Marshal Lefebvre 
about his unconventional wife, the Duchess of 
Dantzig, whose incorrect behaviour filled Paris 
with laughter and gave some consolation to the 
fine courts of Europe. This attitude of the 
Emperor kept the old nobles in check and protected 


the new ones. All felt that the sovereign knew 
well what was worthy of gratitude and honour. 
Las Cases, who himself belonged to a noble Franco- 
Spanish family of distinction, and had taken 
service in the imperial court at an early date 
and eventually followed the Emperor to St. 
Helena tells us that he one day heard the 
following story about Mme. Lefebvre, the Duchess 
of Dantzig. She gave help to poor emigrants, 
amongst others to a noble family that was so 
proud and sensitive that the duchess, knowing 
well what people thought and said of her, dare not 
offer it herself. She therefore went to the family 
in which she and her husband were at one time 
simple servants, and gave her help anonymously 
through them. They themselves belonged to the 
higher social circles. ' When I heard this,' says 
Las Cases, ' I ceased to make fun of the Duchess. 
I rather esteemed it a pleasure after that to offer 
her my arm at the Tuileries, and lead her round 
the magnificent rooms, and took no notice of the 
sarcasm and the round eyes of my comrades.' 

But though the mingling of the new and the 
old was carried out with the utmost discretion 
and without ostentation, it begot neither life nor 
gaiety. The tone of the Tuileries was stiff and 
cold, because Napoleon, not very pleasant as 
First Consul, became positively disagreeable as 
Emperor. The Duchess of Abrantes and the 
other ladies recalled with tears the happy days 
of Malmaison, when they had to do duty in their 
stiff court-dresses at the Tuileries, St. Cloud, or 


Fontainebleau. When they gave luxurious parties 
themselves, at his desire, they were no longer free 
to enjoy the dance or masquerade. They had to 
think of nothing but him. When the cry rang 
out, ' The Emperor,' the company, already nervous 
with waiting, became as quiet as mice. The eyes 
and thoughts of all were on him to discover what 
sort of humour he was in. He was as unreliable 
as a Sultan. At times he might be disposed to 
joke ; otherwise he would at the most amuse 
himself at their balls with frightening the younger 
ladies to death when his spies had told him their 
little secrets. 

The festivals that the Emperor gave, or 
caused to be given, were generally so tedious that 
they were a great trial to the younger folk. He 
held audiences in the morning before breakfast, 
as the French kings had used to do, when they 
left their beds and were clothed by their valets. 
At other times he gave large audiences before one 
or other festival at the Tuileries. The whole 
court was in attendance, the ambassadors of 
foreign powers being in the front rank. The 
Emperor would stride rapidly in, and go along 
the row of bowing and bending courtiers. Those 
were the most anxious moments for the whole of 
Europe. From the few words he spoke to the 
ambassadors, or even from the way in which he 
would pass one by in silence or offer another a 
pinch of snuff, there were conclusions drawn all 
over Paris and Europe. It was like prophesying 
from the grounds in a tea-cup. As a rule the 


brief conversations with the ambassadors ran in 
this wise : 

Emperor : ' Why is your government gather- 
ing such large masses of troops in the Tyrol.' 

Metternich : ' Indeed ! your Majesty aston- 
ishes me . . . .' 

Emperor : ' Bah ! I know all about it, and 
I want a satisfactory explanation.' 

Metternich : * I will send a courier to Vienna 
at once. Perhaps I could send my court by the 
same messenger a satisfactory assurance from your 
Majesty about the advance of the Duke of E/agusa 
from Italy.' 

Napoleon : ' How do you know that ?' 

Metternich : ' Ah ! It is true, then, Sire.' 

Napoleon : ' Whether it is true or not, I 
have no explanation to give.' 

That was pretty much the tenor of these con- 
versations. They assumed enormous proportions 
in the eyes of diplomatists, and brought Metternich 
the reputation of being the most astute of all. As 
a rule, however, they were mere bluff. Each 
side was well acquainted with the other's intrigues 
and manoeuvres. They knew also that it was 
only a question of time when they should be at 
war again. But the art consisted in talking peace 
and meaning war, and they waltzed round, like 
cats round a basin of hot broth. 

At this time Napoleon was still a handsome- 
looking man when he strode in on the waxed floors, 
with firm short steps that resounded in the 
respectful silence, to the accompaniment of a 


slight jingle of spurs when he had his high boots 
on, and the faint odour of eau de cologne that 
always clung to him. But he soon became rather 
too stout, and it increased every year, even when 
he was in the field. The Empress Josephine had 
easily adapted herself to her high position at 
court by her grace and amiability, as well as tact 
and judgment. The great men, the kings and 
princes, who more or less willingly visited Paris, 
looked in vain for something to tell against her. 
Even Louis XVIII, when he returned and saw 
the great changes in the Louvre and the Tuileries, 
had to admit that everything had been done in 
a style that neither he nor anyone else cared to 

But while Napoleon gave his court a pompous 
air through the rules he had drawn up, he worked 
day and night with a versatility and endurance 
that his contemporaries were never tired of 
admiring. Just as he injured his horses by riding 
in the field, so he nearly worked to death the 
secretaries and ministers who were in his service, 
without ever being overcome by fatigue himself. 
His first private secretary was Bourrienne, one of 
the friends of his youth. They agreed very well 
for a number of years, but there was one fault 
that Napoleon could not bear or forgive, and that 
was carelessness in money-matters. He could 
forgive his generals for stupid mistakes when they 
redeemed them. He could overlook infidelity of 
all kinds, even Josephine's he was, in fact, not 
very sound on that point himself ; but in money- 


matters he tolerated no irregularities. He was a 
terror to bankers and army-contractors. The 
large houses of the time Hope of Amsterdam, 
Lafitte, Seguin lived in daily dread of fresh 
surprises from the Emperor. He twice ruined the 
the great speculator Ouvrard. As soon as he 
suspected dishonesty, or merely heard of some 
illegitimate profit, or that one of his men had used 
his position to enrich himself, he came down on 
him at once. 

Marshal Massena once returned from a 
campaign in Italy with his pockets well filled. 
The Emperor at once ordered him to pay three 
million francs into the State-treasury, without 
giving any explanation. Massena paid without a 
murmur ; or, rather, he only complained in 
private. Another officer, Colonel Solignac, who 
had been with Massena, and who was ordered to 
pay 800,000 francs, hesitated to obey, and was 
at once reduced to the ranks. However, Solignac 
coolly shouldered his gun, and fell into line ; and 
the next time Napoleon's eye fell on him, he 
restored his rank and command. Solignac had 
been at Napoleon's side in the junior Council at 
St. Cloud on the 18th Brumaire. He liked best 
to be with General Massena, and was, like him, 
an incurable pillager. 

Bourrienne, Napoleon's private secretary, had 
the same weakness in regard to money, though it 
took a more pacific form. Nevertheless their 
friendship was at an end as soon as Napoleon 
found that his secretary was using his position 


to make money. Bourrienne was a brave man, 
with quick intelligence and a great capacity for 
work. He was also devoted to Napoleon. But 
he was tempted when he saw millions circulating 
about the great man, who was himself indifferent 
to them, and he began very soon to receive pay- 
ments of a more or less questionable character. 
He discovered, for instance, that the Minister of 
Police, Fouche, paid 100,000 francs a month to 
men who were in Napoleon's immediate vicinity, 
to tell him every day where the First Consul went, 
what he was doing, and who came to him. 
Bourrienne thought no one could do this better 
than himself. He went to Fouche and offered 
his services. Fouche accepted, and from that 
time Bourrienne received 25,000 francs a month 
for the work. But the Minister of Police and Spies 
had many others in the Tuileries to whom he 
paid large sums. Even Josephine received 1,000 
francs a day for secret information about her 

Later Bourrienne had his finger in all sorts 
of affairs, and at length he indulged in large 
speculations, in which millions were at stake. He 
was secretly a partner in the firm of Coulon Freres, 
who contracted for the cavalry-supplies, and 
went bankrupt for a million. In the end he 
became impoverished and was prosecuted by 
his creditors. 

After Bourrienne, Meneval became secretary, 
and he was Napoleon's favourite. He was an 
extraordinary man in regard to trustworthiness 


and capacity for work. But he was completely 
worn out ; as a reward, and in order to rest 
himself, he was made private secretary to Marie 

The chief of the Emperor's cabinet was 
Maret, Duke of Bassano. He was a man of 
mediocre talent and poor character, but he was 
faithful and devoted to Napoleon to the last. 
He was generally hated on account of his daily 
and intimate converse with the Emperor, and 
because he stood high in Napoleon's favour ; but 
more evil was laid to his charge than he really 
deserved. Talleyrand once said of him : * I only 
know one man who is more stupid than M. Maret, 
and that is the Due de Bassano.' He was really 
not so stupid, but thoroughly conventional and 
petty. He was a subordinate flatterer and slave 
to his great master. Napoleon was one of the 
men who can make use of everything that has at 
least strength ; and the Duke of Bassano had a 
capacity for work that even the Emperor could 
never exhaust. At the dangerous crisis of 1811, 
when Napoleon had most need of a cool and 
moderate counsellor, he dismissed the judicious 
Champagny, Duke of Cadore, and made Maret 
Minister for Foreign Affairs, as he never expressed 
the least resistance or hesitation when the Emperor 
wanted anything. 

Still nearer to Napoleon in daily intercourse 
nearer than any other of his generals was his 
warm friend and counsellor, Duroc, Duke of 
Friaul and Master of the Court. Like most of 


the men about Napoleon he had originally been 
an officer, and had served under the French kings 
before the Revolution. Napoleon used him 
exclusively as an envoy and Master of the Court 
in everything that pertained to his private life 
his chateaux, his court and domestic routine, his 
journeys and daily life at Paris, his family and 
all the storms that broke out in them. Duroc 
was quiet, precise, firm and modest. He was of 
an upright and well-minded character. Amidst 
the chaos of intrigues and jealousies that gathered 
about the great man not the least amongst his 
own family Duroc was like a tower rising above 
the waters. He was ambassador at Vienna, 
St. Petersburg, Berlin, Stockholm, and Copen- 
hagen, and he was much esteemed everywhere. 
He was spared Spain. 

A very different man from him was another 
of Napoleon's immediate servants, who did not 
properly belong to the rank of officers. This was 
the Minister of War, Clarke, Duke of Feltre. He 
was of Irish extraction, and began his career as 
private secretary in the Orleans family. After the 
Revolution he was sent by the Directors, according 
to their custom, to watch General Bonaparte 
during the first Italian campaign. In a few days 
the General saw through the spy, and Clarke 
candidly confessed it and offered his services. 
Napoleon accepted the offer, and gradually loaded 
him with gifts and distinctions. Clarke became 
ambassador, Governor at Vienna and Berlin, 
where he is still remembered, Minister of War, 


and Duke. When he married he received a dot 
from the Emperor's private purse. He was the 
worst flatterer in Napoleon's service, and was 
always ready to goad him on when the Emperor 
was going too far. He was rightly hated for his 

It is not easy to see how much or how little 
influence Napoleon's men had on his actions. 
On the whole it may be said that their influence 
was very slight at first, but it became stronger, 
and in the days of his downfall was greater than 
was desirable. Yet he was the man who ruled 
everything and everybody. This was not merely 
because he wished it ; Napoleon's gifts and 
acquirements, not only in military matters, but 
in almost every branch of government, were so 
thorough and superior that everything came 
naturally to him. Hence every part of the State- 
machinery became purely ornamental and 
unimportant. Communal and governmental 
offices shrivelled up and were cast in the shade. 
The one thing that Napoleon cared for was the 
Conseil d'Etat, where he appeared fifty-seven 
times in the days when his famous legal code 
the Code Napoleon was being drawn up. He 
had spies in this assembly also, and distributed 
money amongst its members, without one knowing 
what the other received. 

Napoleon was unique in financial matters. 
There never was any other man who treated 
money with such indifference, yet used it with 
such prodigality on the one hand and such cold 


accuracy on the other. But he had his own 
ideas, and was just as difficult with financiers and 
exchanges as with his own ministers. He had 
a faculty for detecting errors in calculation that 
astounded those about him. One day he said that 
there was an error of 2,000,000 francs in an account 
presented by the Maison Seguin for supplies to 
the army. The minister smiled and promised 
that the account would be examined. After a 
long search the error was detected, and the firm 
refunded the money. On another occasion he 
went through the accounts of an infantry-regiment 
he went through all of them and found an 
entry of 16,000 francs for a stay in Paris. He 
declared that neither the regiment nor any part 
of it had been at Paris. The minister smiled and 
said he would see to it ; and it turned out that 
the Emperor was right. 

It cannot possibly be all flattery when we find 
all the great men of the time, French and foreign, 
whatever branch they may be expert in, expressing 
their astonishment and admiration at the range 
of his knowledge and the lucidity with which he 
discussed all subjects. Learned and gifted men 
had not to confine themselves with him to a 
few phrases, as they generally did with princes 
who know nothing beyond what they have been 
coached in for a particular audience. If Napoleon 
had made a poor impression, no one needed to 
conceal the fact, because there were plenty of 
people who would be glad to hear it. But the 
truth was that he compelled them all to marvel 


at the clear and vast mind that seemed to have 
room for everything. 

The famous chemist, Chaptal, was his Minister 
of Foreign Affairs for four years, and they worked 
very well together until Napoleon at last carelessly 
wounded Chaptal' s pride, and so kept him aloof 
for several years. One night they worked together 
until very late, when a servant entered and 
announced in a fairly loud tone of voice that 
Mile. Bourgoing had arrived. She was the famous 
and inspired actress of the Theatre Fran^ais. 
The Emperor directed that she should be taken 
to his room and wait there. All this was done in 
a tone of voice that the minister could not help 
hearing. The offence was deliberate, for the 
whole of Paris knew that the Minister of Foreign 
Affairs had relations with the charming actress. 
Chaptal at once put his papers together, bowed, 
and departed. He sent in his resignation the 
same night. This was in 1804, and he did not 
return until 1815, when he was Napoleon's Minister 
of Trade during the ' Hundred Days.' 

Another well-known form of unpleasantness 
in Napoleon's conversation was his habit of 
suddenly breaking into anger and coarseness. He 
would fall quite unexpectedly on someone present 
and call him to account for new or ancient faults 
in such bitter and exasperating language that 
many went away never to return. He used to 
have most violent encounters with the foreign 
ambassadors. Four of these are especially famous 
with Lord Whit worth in 1803, with Metternich 


in 1809, with Prince Kourakin in 1811, and with 
General Balakoff at Wilna on July 12th, 1812. 
It is said that in his altercation with Lord Whit- 
worth Napoleon was so excited that he nearly 
struck the ambassador ; some say, in fact, that 
he did. But Lord Whitworth's own account, 
which appeared in 1888, does not say a word of 
any such violent action on the part of the First 
Consul. There were some, even amongst those 
who knew Napoleon very well in daily life, who 
believed that these violent and passionate attacks 
were merely deliberate scenes, much like the one 
before signing the peace of Campo Formio, when 
he broke Count Cobentzl's tea-service. 

In the service and in intercourse with his 
officers he was cold, almost repellent, severe, and 
inflexibly just. One day General Gouvion Saint- 
Cyr, afterwards marshal, appeared at the 
Emperor's morning audience at the Tuileries. 
Napoleon said quietly to him : 

' You come from Naples, General ?' 

' Yes, Sire. I relinquished my command to 
Marshal Perignon, whom your Majesty sent to 
relieve me.' 

'And no doubt you have leave of absence 
from the Minister of War ?' 

' No, your Majesty ; but I had nothing else 
to do at Naples.' 

* Unless you are on the way to Naples within 
two hours, you will be shot on the plain of Grenelle 
at twelve o'clock precisely,' said the Emperor, 
returning his watch to his pocket. 


That was his method in the service. Exact 
in all military matters, he acted without respect 
of persons, and never allowed a favourite to offer 
him anything. Such a man was bound to appeal 
differently to different people ; but it is clear 
that in the course of time he drew the best and 
most valuable to him like a magnet. 

There was certainly not much gaiety about 
him in the imperial days, but that was what he 
wanted, and he was probably right. All those 
about him had risen with him, and it was 
necessary to keep a certain distance between them 
and himself. He had no sense of comradeship, 
no love of food or drink, and never gambled. It 
is true that in his early years, especially during 
the long voyage across the Mediterranean to 
Egypt and back, the commander-in-chief would 
join occasionally in a game with his officers. But 
he could never bear to lose, especially at cards, 
and so he cheated flagrantly, and no one dare say 
a word. However, when he had finished the 
game, he pushed the heap of money away from 
him, and told them with a smile to divide his 
unjust winnings between them. 

What made service under Napoleon so 
attractive was not merely his luck in war and his 
generosity, but chiefly the fact that he knew his 
men far better that most generals do, and that 
he had the gift of making the whole army feel 
that each individual was known to him ; that 
he knew where they were, what they had done, 
what were their wounds and their fights, and 


where they had distinguished themselves. 
Thousands fell and disappeared from the ranks, 
and the army was entirely renewed in the course 
of time ; but from the moment when his eye 
first lit on them, the young recruits joined in 
an unwavering love of the man, and were ready 
to face death for him. To be mentioned in an 
order of the day was enough for a regiment ; a 
smile or a sign of recognition on his features when 
he reviewed them, a few quick words or a greeting, 
made them happy for a long time. And, if 
anything happened to them and they lay fatally 
wounded, the Emperor might ride by, with sabre 
and spurs jingling, dismount, and fix the cross 
on their breast. 

The cross of the Legion of Honour, which he 
had founded in the camp at Boulogne in 1805, 
became identified with him, and as long as he 
gave it, was a link of mutual gratitude between 
him and the army the most coveted honour, the 
recompense for wounds and prolonged sufferings, 
a pride and joy to thousands of brave men. 
Though military interests predominated in his 
mind, Napoleon had an idea that there ought to 
be a civil division of the Legion of Honour. 
It was with this object that he founded 
the Order of the Iron Crown. But the idea 
that there ought to be a decoration for 
civilians did not fall on fruitful soil. For a time 
it went well with scholars and writers, but when 
the Emperor decorated the famous soprano-tenor 
Crescentini with the Iron Crown, after a perform- 


ance of his favourite opera, Romeo and Juliet, 
there was a good deal of annoyance felt in France 
and Italy. It was in military circles, of course, 
that the most scorn was expressed about Cres- 
centini's decoration. One night the officers 
present in a certain Parisian salon spoke in the 
bitterest terms of this wretched singer, this 
comedian, this buffoon and eunuch, and told of 
their own battles and scars. Suddenly the gay 
Mme. Grassini, the singer, broke in : 

* But messieurs ! messieurs ! Have you com- 
pletely forgotten poor Crescentini's wound ?' 

Napoleon still defended his idea in the 
conversations at St. Helena. Crescentini was a 
great artist and of good family, and Napoleon 
thought the decoration would give great pleasure 
to the Italians. But his calculation completely 
miscarried. It caused nothing but ridicule. If 
public opinion had been otherwise, Talma and 
other actors and musicians would have received 
the cross of the Legion of Honour. The prejudice 
of his contemporaries stayed his hand wrongly, 
he thought, because in his opinion every man was 
worthy of the Legion of Honour who was an 
honour to his country. 

One of the things that gave the Emperor most 
trouble was his own family. As soon as he 
realised that he could make France the most 
powerful realm and Paris the centre of the world, 
he formed the plan of gathering the members of 
his family about him as a dynasty, a race of 
princes, like the old legitimate races, with his 


brothers on the thrones of neighbouring realms. 
But his family was made of very difficult material 
in some respects. They were all just as extrava- 
gant and vicious as any member of the old princely 
races, and were very fine-looking. The men and 
women of his family were handsome individuals, 
some of them, in fact, of rare beauty. The men 
could wear the most splendid uniforms ; indeed 
crowns and ermine sat better on them than on 
many a legitimate ruler. His sisters were so 
pretty and well-made (though rather short in the 
legs) that all the state and jewelry they won 
through their brother's rise only enhanced their 
fine appearance, and entirely harmonised with 
their natural grace. Pauline was one of the 
greatest beauties of the age. All of them had the 
same fine, clear-cut profile and engaging mouth. 
They all had, likewise, the same love of life, the 
same levity and unbounded faithlessness in love ; 
and in this their great brother was worse than 
all the others. 

Napoleon's parents were strong and healthy 
folk. The mother especially, Letitia Ramolino, 
was a fine healthy woman, and bore her husband 
eight well-formed children. She brought number two 
the most remarkable of them all into the world 
under very desperate conditions, as she accom- 
panied her husband on horseback the whole of 
the day before, when they were flying to the 
Corsican hills in the struggle with the French. 
She held up bravely to the end, followed the 
rising splendour of her son, and never caused him 


a moment's embarrassment at the brilliant court, 
where she took her place as the stately and 
sagacious Mme. Mere. 

His sisters brought him little profit or pleasure. 
They were not of the character that he needed 
for his purposes. He had disposed of his sisters 
so early that he had no occasion to seek husbands 
for them amongst princes. But his brothers 
were to be kings, whether they liked it or not. 
The eldest of them, Joseph, signed the treaties of 
peace at Luneville in 1801 and Amiens in 1802 ; 
and in 1806, though he was a poor soldier, he 
drove out the King of Naples and occupied his 
throne. So far all went well. But in 1808 he 
was to be King of Spain, and Murat received the 
gay kingdom of Naples. The intractable Spani- 
ards gave Joseph much trouble, and his kingly 
dignity vanished after the battle of Vittoria in 
the year 1813. He was married to Julie Clary 
of Marseilles, a sister of Mme. Bernadotte. She 
left him shortly after 1813. 

Joseph was completely dominated by his 
passion for the fair sex and his love of pleasure 
and indolence. He was thrust against his char- 
acter and inclination into a career of high politics 
and great distinctions. * Joseph was never the 
slightest use to me,' said Napoleon ; c but he 
is a very good fellow and very fond of me so 
was Julie.' The truth was that Joseph was made 
for private life, and it was not his fault that he 
became an absolute monarch. However, with 
the beauty and the charm that all the Bonaparte's 


possessed, he was able to make his way everywhere 
without compromising his great brother or his 
high positions. 

Lucien gave some help to his brother on the 
18th Brumaire as President of the Council of the 
Five Hundred at St. Cloud, and he had diplomatic 
missions under the Consulate. He was, perhaps, 
the most sober of the whole family, and had many 
natural endowments, a good deal of knowledge, 
and a firm character. But he was resolutely 
bent on being an irreconcilable Republican, and 
so after 1804 he affected hostility to his brother. 
Those writers who say Lucien kept aloof from 
public affairs because he had no ambition are on 
the wrong line. He was nearly bursting with 
envy of Napoleon, and devoted his whole life to 
an effort to attain power himself. Hence, when 
he came from Elba to Paris in 1815, it was because 
he thought he could quit Napoleon, put himself 
at the head of the government, and end as Presi- 
dent of the French Republic. 

For his eldest sister, Elisa, who had married 
an Italian noble named Bacciochi in 1797, he 
created the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. His 
youngest sister he married to Murat, who rose 
from the ranks to the position of marshal, Grand 
Admiral, Prince of France, and King of Naples. 
The beautiful Pauline was first married to General 
Leclerc, who died at Hayti ; then to Camillo 
Borghese, who was a fool. She was, perhaps, the 
most frivolous of them, and had many lovers. 
Otherwise she was amiable, bright, and always 


willing ; but she was so extravagant that her 
mother always predicted she would spend her 
last days in the poor-house. It did not come to 
that pass. 

The youngest brother, Jerome, lived until 
1860. He was with General Leclerc at Hayti, 
and led a fleet to Martinique as rear-admiral. In 
1807 he was made King of Westphalia. He was 
first married to an American, Miss Paterson, but 
Napoleon afterwards secured his marriage with a 
princess of Wiirtemberg. He was not without 
natural gifts, but when he was young it would 
have been hard to find a more arrogant, crude, 
and ignorant man. He was also extravagant 
beyond all measure. Napoleon was hard on him 
in 1812, at the beginning of the Russian campaign, 
but Jerome improved when calamity fell on the 
family. His rule as King of Westphalia was 
almost a farce. The whole thing would have 
been impossible if Napoleon had not assigned to 
him as French Ambassador Count Karl Friederich 
von Reinhardt, whom he often used for diplomatic 
work. It was he who really ruled the kingdom ; 
Jerome only amused himself. It was due to the 
shrewd and judicious Reinhardt that the whole 
administration was no worse than it was. 

The last of Napoleon's brothers, the unfortu- 
nate Louis, suffered at an early age from venereal 
disease. It destroyed his life, for he became 
morose and eccentric. He had good endowments, 
but his chronic ailment made him little fitted 
for a life of ambition and politics. He accepted 


with reluctance the positions of honour and the 
wealth that his brother offered him. He was, 
nevertheless, a wealthy man, and in the year 1802 
he married the Empress's daughter Hortense. In 
1806 his brother made him King of Holland ; 
but as Louis was a man of some good feeling he 
could not endure to see how the Dutch suffered 
from Napoleon's continental system, and in 1810 
he resigned the crown. 

Fouche affirms as a well-known and easily 
intelligible fact, that when Josephine could no 
longer doubt her own sterility, she arranged herself 
a liaison between Napoleon and her own daughter 
Hortense, and at once married Hortense to Louis 
when she became enceinte. With such a beginning 
a marriage was bound to be unhappy. It is 
certain, at all events, that Louis acted sometimes 
as if he himself believed that Napoleon was the 
father of Hortense's eldest son. It is also certain 
that there was exceptional mourning at the 
Tuileries when the little prince died of an infantile 
disease. There were many indications that 
Napoleon intended to adopt the child and educate 
him as his successor. 

Queen Hortense never lived peacefully with 
her husband, and she was divorced in 1815. She 
was extremely frivolous, and in view of the malady 
of her husband it seems hardly probable that any 
of her sons were his. The first was the little 
Napoleon, who died, and was believed to be the 
son of the great Napoleon. The second became 
Grand Duke of Berg, and married his cousin, a 


daughter of King Jerome. The third was the 
Emperor Napoleon III, probably the son of the 
Dutch Admiral Verhuel. The latter two had 
taken part in some trouble in Italy, and on that 
account King Louis wrote the following letter to 
Pope Gregory XVI in 1830 : 

' Holy Father ! My heart is overcome with 
sorrow and indignation since I have heard that 
my sons have taken part in the criminal revolt 
against your Holiness's authority. My life, which 
was already full enough of care, has been still 
further embittered by the knowledge that one 
of my kindred could forget all your kindness to 
my unhappy family. The unfortunate young 
man is dead ; God be merciful to him. As to 
the other who bears my name, he has, thank God, 
nothing to do with me, as your Holiness is aware. 
I have had the misfortune to marry a Messalina, 
who bore children.' 

Hor tense's fourth son, afterwards Duke of 
Morny, was the son of Count Flahault. 

Among these terrible Bonapartes Josephine 
was a refined and radiant form ; though she also 
had had her escapades in the salons of Barras and 
the other revolutionary chiefs, and at least once, 
while Napoleon was in Egypt, had had a brief 
liaison with an undistinguished officer. But she 
had a warm love of Napoleon, and he on his side 
accorded her the highest mark of confidence that 
he was capable of to a woman when he said that 
he was sure Josephine would leave a rendezvous 
if a message came to her from him. They slept 


in the same bedroom at first like good bourgeois. 
But in 1805 Napoleon, at the Boulogne camp, 
was detained far into the night with State matters. 
Josephine was so foolish as to make a scene 
when he came to bed. Napoleon was angry, 
and from that moment he could never be prevailed 
upon to return to the old arrangement, even with 
Marie Louise. He knew the species. 

Josephine was not very judicious, yet she 
interfered little in things that she did not under- 
stand, and gave her busy husband as little trouble 
as possible. It was enough for her if she could 
retain his affection ; and when other matters 
estranged him from her, she tried every means in 
her power to regain it. She attended to all his 
needs, and was generally such an Empress as he 
would desire ; and she would not allow the clergy 
to come any nearer than he wanted, though she 
was religious in her way. 

She once told the Archbishop of Nantes in 
the confessional that she ate meat on Fridays. 

6 Does the Emperor do the same ?' asked the 

' Yes.' 

c Very well, then, do as he does. Your 
Majesty may be sure that he has a special 
dispensation for himself and his family.' 

But when Josephine, to make quite sure, put 
the same question to Cardinal Fesch, he replied 
that when the Emperor wanted her to break the 
fast she was to throw the plate in his face. ' The 
doctors differ,' said Napoleon, laughing, as he 


told Chaptal the story, which he had heard from 
Josephine. ' The bishop is right ; the other is a 
fool. He wants to give himself an air of austerity 
that does not go well with his own private life.' 

In the course of time Josephine became more 
and more nervous and strained when it was seen 
that she would have no more children than the 
two she had borne to her first husband, General 
Beauharnais Eugene and Hortense. She brooded 
constantly over it, and she could see that 
Napoleon also did so. She tried every possible 
means and advice, and even suggested to Napoleon 
a fictitious pregnancy and an adopted child. She 
had a presentiment long before it came that 
there would be a divorce. 

Her extravagance was unbounded and almost 
amounted to a mania. It was impossible for 
her to resist the jewellers and dressmakers when 
they came to her rooms with the finest trinkets 
and richest toilets that the best artists of Paris 
had produced all of fabulous prices. She had 
an incredible number of hats, the cost of which 
was enormous during a single season, and she lived 
in constant dread of her bills, though Napoleon 
paid freely and generously. His Empress could 
afford to be extravagant. She must put all the 
other princesses of Europe in the shade. There 
was no niggardliness about her husband. But he 
could not bear himself or her to be cheated, and 
he knew that Josephine was paying seven times 
the price of things, because she had no more idea 
of money than a bird. Hence, when he was 


settling her bills, he never paid the full price, but 
offered the vendors a half or three-fourths of the 
sum. They generally took it, and did good 
business. But he never got to the bottom of her 
bills, as she always concealed the worst from him, 
although she must have known that they would 
all come to light one day. Josephine's first word 
was always ' No.' She denied things by instinct. 
Hence she lived in an ocean of debts, and the 
flood of bills even found its way to Elba. 

Otherwise, and in so far as there can 
be any question of female influence on 
Napoleon, Josephine was certainly the most 
suitable wife for him. If she had only been 
able to bear him a child even a girl Napoleon 
would never have parted with her. He did not 
propose the new marriage because he was dis- 
contented with Josephine, still less because he 
loved anybody else, nor in any desire for a more 
distinguished partner. He was quite high enough 
to afford the luxury of retaining the woman to 
whom he had always returned, and he was very 
unwilling to inflict on Josephine the pain and 
humiliation of a separation. But fortune had 
favoured him, and he felt bound to put himself 
right for the future by ensuring descendants. 
Moreover, his followers were hinting every day 
some quite openly, others by suggestion that 
all the legitimate princely houses had their future 
assured ; he alone was without past and without 
future. He must found a Bonaparte dynasty. 

It has seemed to many that the man was 


insatiable, and was driven from one delusive plan 
to another by his unbounded ambition. But, 
apart from the great masters of politics who have 
never sought anything for themselves, but been 
raised higher and higher by the admiration and 
affection of their compatriots, it seems to me 
that we all, in our various ways, seek self- 
expression. When Napoleon saw that he had 
met all the claims that his wonderful fate had 
made on him, he had no reason to halt. He 
rightly felt that he was so far superior to other 
princes that the first place amongst them fell 
naturally to him, at the head of his great nation ; 
and this expressly demanded of him some security 
for the future. He only hesitated so long to take 
the painful step out of tenderness for Josephine ; 
there is no ground whatever for doubting that 
the step was very painful to him. As in all 
other matters, Napoleon once more distinguished 
himself from other kings and princes who had a 
mind to repudiate their wives. No bull came 
from the pope ; no black ring of priests terrified 
the poor queen ; there was no incriminating 
law-suit with bought witnesses and charges of 
infidelity. Even in his separation from his wife 
he was a perfect gentleman, a grand seigneur ; 
and the usual order and ceremony were observed 
as to form. 

On her side Josephine deserves all praise for 
the way in which she met her hard fate, when all 
hope was lost. She remained a true friend of 
Napoleon, and never put herself in the way of the 


new wife and Empress. We rarely find so clear 
and clean a light on the relation between two 
eminent personages as in the case of these two at 
the time of their separation. When Napoleon's 
mind was made up, he directed Eugene Beau- 
harnais to go and explain to his mother that the 
divorce was now unavoidable, for political reasons, 
as France demanded the continuation of the 
Bonaparte dynasty. The viceroy conducted the 
affair in the admirable spirit that he always 
showed. He had not only developed into a 
courageous and reliable officer, but was also a 
man of honour in every respect, and a good son 
to his mother and his step-father. Napoleon had 
a high opinion of him, though he never gave the 
least indication of looking on Eugene as a possible 
successor. Josephine had long hoped that he 
would do so, but she was too prudent and reserved 
ever to ask anything for her son. She wanted to 
leave it entirely to Napoleon to advance him. 

As the widow of General Beauharnais, who 
had been guillotined, she had lived in such 
straitened circumstances that Hortense had been 
sent to learn dressmaking and Eugene to learn 
carpentering, when Napoleon appeared as a suitor. 
Now Hortense was Queen of Holland, and Eugene 
Duke of Leuchtenberg, Prince of Eichstadt, 
Prince of France, and Viceroy of Italy. 

On the evening of December 15th, 1805, 
Prince Cambaceres, the chancellor of the empire, 
and Count Regnault assembled with the whole 
imperial family at the Tuileries. Josephine gave 


her consent to the dissolution of the marriage, 
after Napoleon had thanked her in sincere and 
moving words for the happiness they had had 
together for fifteen years. The divorce was 
communicated to the Senate the following day. 
Eugene again appeared and expressed the loyal 
attitude of his mother and the sacrifice she 
willingly made for her country. The marriage 
was then declared invalid on the ground that a 
priest and two witnesses were not present at its 

General Bonaparte's civil marriage of 1796 
was effected by no other formality than registering 
before the proper republican authorities. Berna- 
dotte and the other officers were married in the 
same way. According to French law it could be 
dissolved by the consent of the contracting 
parties. It was, therefore, not this marriage that 
the Senate had to dissolve before Napoleon could 
marry a Catholic princess. But when the coro- 
nation of the Emperor and Empress drew near 
in 1804, Cardinal Fesch feared that the republican 
marriage would put difficulties in the way of 
Josephine's coronation, and proposed that he 
should marry them in the Tuileries, a few days 
before the coronation, but with closed doors and 
no witnesses. When Josephine learned, at the 
time of the divorce, that her marriage had been 
declared invalid, she sent for Fesch to Malmaison, 
and he gave her a legal certificate of marriage. 
However, she made no use of this document, and 
was content to keep it in her possession. 


' 1 

In a sense both the cardinal and the Senate 

were right. In French law the marriage was 
invalid because there were no witnesses. But 
according to the Canon Law of the Church a 
marriage of this kind may be valid when it is 
conducted by a cardinal. However, Napoleon 
had to pay a fine of six francs to the poor, because 
he had omitted to have witnesses. 

The divorce caused the greatest excitement 
in all the European courts. If he decided to 
contract a fresh marriage, it was clear that he 
would seek his wife in the most elevated circles. 
For some time there was question of a princess 
of Saxony, whom he could easily marry, but 
Napoleon himself desired a Russian princess, one 
of the Tsar's sisters. Alexander acted as though 
he was extremely flattered by Napoleon's choice, 
but begged a postponement on account of the 
youth of the Grand Princess. He knew as well 
as anybody that there was no question of delay. 

On March 1st, 1810, Marshal Berthier, Prince 
of Neuchatel, went to Vienna to ask the hand 
of the Archduchess Marie Louise for the Emperor 
of France. The preliminaries had already taken 
place, and the Emperor Francis met the suit 
with the greatest complaisance. It must, however, 
have been hard for the old Hapsburger to give 
his own daughter to bear children to the man 
who had humiliated Austria, beaten her armies, 
and brought the house of Hapsburg to the dust 
time after time ; and he a mere Corsican 


On March llth, Marie Louise was entrusted 
to Berthier in the name of the Emperor, and two 
days afterwards they left Vienna. She was 
accompanied by a suite of 300 persons. Between 
Braunau and Altheim Napoleon had, in an 
incredibly short time, erected a very large and 
handsomely decorated wooden structure. At one 
end of the building was Austria, at the other 
France, with a neutral space between. Here the 
Queen of Naples, Caroline Murat, went down from 
Paris with a numerous escort, and received 
Marie Louise. The archduchess, who then received 
the title of Empress, was conducted from Austria 
into France with a splendid ceremony arranged 
by the Emperor himself. The bridal gifts he 
sent her included a trousseau of the finest Parisian 
work and taste, and put in the shade anything 
that Vienna could offer the ladies of the court. 

After the ceremonies the Empress continued 
her journey westward in short daily stages, as 
was customary a century ago. Large carriages 
with four horses were ready at each stage, and 
no time was lost. She had now parted from her 
Viennese friends, and was only accompanied by 
the small temporary French court that the 
Emperor had sent. At each station where they 
were to spend a night she found a letter from 
her gallant bridegroom. March 29th was to be 
the last day of the journey. She was to reach 
the castle of Compiegne in the evening, where 
the Emperor and all his family awaited her, and 
Berthier was to present the kneeling Empress to 
Napoleon on the following day. 


But the whole of these arrangements were 
upset. When all Napoleon's preparations were 
made, he took Murat and slipped out of the castle 
in the grey coat he had worn at Wagram. They 
drove to meet the Empress in a simple carriage, 
with one coachman without livery. When they 
reached Courcelles, in the pouring rain, they 
drove under the porch of an old church, and 
waited for the Empress and her suite. It was 
the last spot for changing horses, and the moment 
the Empress's carriage drove up Napoleon hastened 
to it. The next morning they had breakfast 
together in the Empress's bedroom. The frightful 
scandal flew through Europe, and shook the very 
pillars of Viennese society. 

On March 30th the civil marriage was 
completed at St. Cloud, and on the following day 
the newly-wedded pair made a triumphant entry 
into Paris, followed by a festival at the Louvre 
which Napoleon had arranged, according to his 
own taste, on the most magnificent scale. Part 
of the Louvre waa used for the festivity. There 
were tribunes for kings and princes, ambassadors, 
and marshals. The imperial family stood round 
Napoleon and Marie Louise in all their beauty 
and splendour, besides all the nobles and poten- 
tates in France and a number of foreigners. 
Altogether there were about 8,000 persons. 

A shadow was cast on the festive period that 
followed the marriage. Some two months after- 
wards a terrible fire broke out at a ball given 
by the Austrian ambassador, Prince Schwartzen- 


berg, in honour of his master's daughter. The 
accident not only cost the lives of several persons 
and interrupted the festive spirit, but it reminded 
contemporaries of a similar mishap that had 
occurred the last time an Austrian Archduchess 
married a French ruler in 1770, when Marie 
Antoinette married Louis XVI. Prince Schwart- 
zenberg had committed one of those impru- 
dent acts that we often read of in connection 
with the old Parisian palaces. To provide a room 
for the dancing the inner court of the hotel had 
been converted into a large hall. A wooden 
floor had been put in, with steps and approaches 
to the other rooms and the corridors, a roof of 
canvas was stretched over it, and the walls were 
hung with beautiful curtains and tapestry, and 
decorated with an infinite number of flowers and 

It is dangerous enough to-day, for all our 
electric-light and modern heating-apparatus. At 
that time, when illumination had to be got by 
thousands of wax candles, it was pure folly. It 
only needed one curtain to fall over a chandelier, 
as they danced or crowded on the steps, and the 
whole would be in flames in three minutes. That 
was what happened, at the very height of the 
festivities. The Emperor did not wait for assist- 
ance, but quietly took his wife in his arms like 
a good bourgeois, and carried her into the security 
of the palace. Many were killed, especially 
ladies, whose light dresses caught fire at once, and 
who fell and were suffocated in the crowd, or ran 


in flames into the garden. There were plenty of 
men there who were accustomed to keep their 
heads in the greatest danger, but the whole thing 
passed with such frightful rapidity. The cavalry- 
general, Durosnel, found his wife, and carried her 
out of the crowd. As he pushed through he saw 
a hand stealing a valuable comb from her hair 
without being able to prevent it. 

At the close of the year 1810, Napoleon 
received a request from Norway that led to the 
appointment of Marshal Bernadotte, Prince of 
Ponte Corvo, as Crown-prince and successor to 
the throne of Sweden. During and after the 
Consulate Bernadotte was a secret enemy of 
Bonaparte's. Napoleon treated him with the 
greatest generosity, but it was returned with 
ingratitude. On the 18th Brumaire he held back 
until he saw whether Napoleon's coup failed. When 
it succeeded Bernadotte at once joined him, and 
began fresh intrigues against him. Although 
Napoleon was fully informed of it all, he made 
Bernadotte marshal at the first selection, gave 
him the grand cross and the title of Prince of 
France and Duke of Ponte Corvo, with considerable 
revenues, and in the end appointed him King of 
Sweden with a gift of a million francs out of the 
Emperor's private purse. Bernadotte repaid it 
all with ingratitude and treachery. 

In 1799, when Napoleon was in Egypt, Joseph 
Bonaparte married his wife's sister to General 
Bernadotte. The Miles. Clary were the daughters 
of a merchant at Marseilles, and Desiree, who 


became Mme. Bernadotte, had been Bonaparte's 
first love. She was afterwards to marry a General 
Duphot, but he was murdered at Rome at the 
very time appointed for the wedding. In the end 
she married Bernadotte, and his continuous rise, 
until he became king, was entirely due to his 
marriage with Napoleon's friend. Bernadotte 
had no great name in military circles. There 
were twenty generals in France, who had com- 
manded independent army-corps, whose name 
and fame put his entirely in the shade. He was 
at the same time wholly uneducated and little 
liked in the army. But when Napoleon became 
Emperor, he was pleased to make his early love 
a princess and a queen. 

Their son was Napoleon's god-child. They 
had deferred baptising him until Napoleon's 
return from Egypt, and the name Oscar had been 
chosen by Napoleon himself ; it was taken from 
Ossian's poem, over which he and his contem- 
poraries were very enthusiastic. That was how 
the kings of Sweden came to bear a name taken 
from the supposed poetry of the ancient Scottish 
bard. Neither Napoleon nor anyone else then 
suspected that the work was a forgery of Mac- 

It was really a small party of nobles and 
officers that pressed the aged and childless King of 
Sweden to ask Napoleon for a Prince of France 
as successor to the throne. They had at first 
thought of the Viceroy of Italy, but the need for 
changing his religion proved an insurmountable 


obstacle especially for the viceroy. As there 
was no other prince of France except Ponte Corvo 
the choice fell on him, and Napoleon consented. 
As soon as it was all arranged Jean Baptiste 
Bernadotte promptly embraced the Lutheran 
creed ! His wife's conversion was not quite so 
speedy. Indeed she seemed to be in no hurry to 
leave the court at Paris and go to Stockholm. 

' I might be enthusiastic about Josephine,' 
said a contemporary, ' but I should be quite the 
opposite with the wife of Marshal Bernadotte. 
Her intolerable pride repelled everybody, and her 
way of conducting herself is very much out of 
place now that she is Queen of Sweden, and in 
striking contrast to the amiability of Josephine, 
and even of Hortense.' 

However, this was a small matter in com- 
parison with other liberties she took, in spite of 
her pride and her regal position. The whole of 
Europe was scandalised by the way in which she 
ran after the Due de Richelieu, whom she loved. 
The duke himself writes in a letter that is dated 
from Zurich, July 19th, 1819 : ' This morning 
I found a bouquet on my table at the hotel. So 
my infatuated queen has come here.' On the 
25th he again wrote to one of his friends : * My 
infatuated queen is here in the profoundest 
incognito, and so heavily veiled that when I meet 
her I can never be quite sure it is she. This sort 
of things gets rather troublesome.' At the time 
the women of Norway were meeting at church 
every Sunday and offering prayer for the mother 
of their country. It was not superfluous. 


Bernadotte went at once to Sweden, where 
Charles III adopted him as his son. On November 
1st he took the oath as Crown-prince, and on the 
15th the Swedish government allied itself with 
Napoleon, and joined the continental system 
against Great Britain. Sweden had played a 
very poor part during the whole of the Napoleonic 
wars, but it was soon to astonish Europe with its 
infidelity. As the old king grew feebler, Sweden's 
policy reflected more and more the nature of the 
intriguing and untruthful Gascon. It was well 
known in what intrigues and conspiracies he had 
been involved since the beginning of 1804, before 
the great conspiracy of Georges Cadoudal and 
the royalists. 

He had at that time a command in the 
north-west of France, and a revolt was planned 
amongst the soldiers of the Rennes garrison with 
the object of breaking into insurrection against 
the First Consul on an appointed day. Shortly 
before this date Bernadotte slunk to Paris on the 
pretext that he must be there when the rising 
took place, though his real object was, of course, 
to be out of the way in case of the affair failing 
at Rennes, as it actually did. The conspiracy 
was discovered on the very day the trouble was 
to begin, and the proclamations that were to be 
spread amongst the people, and that contained 
the names of Bernadotte and Moreau, were confis- 
cated. Bernadotte was saved by the fact that 
he had given nothing in writing, and his guilt 
could not be proved. But a young son of General 


Marbot, an adjutant of Bernadotte's had had his 
carriage filled with these dangerous proclamations, 
without his knowledge. He was at once arrested 
and his mother implored Bernadotte's aid. He 
had been a friend of General Marbot, and was 
guardian of his sons ; and it was the conspirators 
who had put the proclamations in the young man's 
carriage. Bernadotte promised everything and 
did nothing. Mme. Marbot ran from one to 
another, and at last obtained a promise from 
Napoleon that her son would be released if 
General Bernadotte personally requested it. The 
lady hastened with this information to Bernadotte. 
He delivered a short speech on friendship, etc., 
and promised to see Bonaparte the same evening. 
He did not ; but departed the same night with 
his wife to the baths of Plombieres. When 
Bonaparte heard it, he said : ' Yes, I know him.' 
The young Marbot was released, but Napoleon 
always distrusted him. 

The struggle in the Spanish Peninsula went 
on vigorously in the years 1810 and 1811. Massena 
was unlucky for the first time in his life. He 
fought Wellington in Portugal and lost the battle 
of Busaco. Although he had Ney and Junot and 
General Reynier with him, he was powerless 
against Wellington's splendid entrenchments at 
Torres Vedras. In Spain things went a little 
better for the French. Marshals Soult and Suchet 
had the supreme command there, but the right 
force for controlling the whole had gone when the 
Emperor departed. Marshal Victor had the good 


fortune to free 600 of those who had been taken 
prisoners at Baylen. His corps was on board a 
section of the fleet that lay in the roads at Cadiz. 
When the unfortunate prisoners, who were at 
work dredging in the harbour, saw the French flag, 
they seized a wretched little ferry-boat, without 
any tackle, and rowed through the hot fire of the 
Spanish and English warships out into the roads, 
where they were picked up by their delighted 

But Napoleon had turned his eyes eastward, 
now that the divorce was effected and the new 
marriage answered his expectations so well. On 
March 20th, 1811, Paris was in a state of feverish 
excitement. They knew that the Empress was 
approaching confinement. But serious difficulties 
arose, and the life either of the mother or the 
child might be endangered. Dr. Dubois went to 
the Emperor, who was in one of the adjacent 
rooms. The physician wanted to know if he was 
to look mainly to saving the child or the mother. 
4 You will treat the Empress,' said Napoleon 
warmly, * as if you were assisting an ordinary 
patient in one of the slums of Paris.' Dr. Dubois 
returned to the Empress, threw off his coat, and 
set to work. The child was in a serious condition 
when it came into the world, but it recovered. 
As soon as it did so the Emperor took it from the 
nurse and carried it into the large hall, where the 
dignitaries of the realm were waiting in the 
greatest tension. 


' Here is the King of Rome,' cried the Emperor, 
who was for once beside himself with joy. 

At the same moment the cannons of the 
Invalides opened fire, and announced to Paris that 
the Emperor had a child. At the first shot 
Paris stood still and held its breath. Everybody 
men, women, and children who could do so 
was counting. They knew that if the guns fired 
twenty-one shots it was only a princess ; if 
twenty-two, then the roar would go on up to a 
hundred, for it meant the birth of a son, an heir 
to the throne, Napoleon the Second. It is said 
that the gunners at the Invalides played a joke by 
waiting for a few seconds before firing the twenty- 
second shot ; but when they did so a thunder of 
rejoicing broke over the whole city, such as has 
never been heard before or since. So great was 
the enthusiasm they felt on hearing that the future 
of the country was assured that the imperial 
page who ran from the chateau to announce the 
birth to the councillors assembled in the Hotel de 
Ville was unanimously voted 10,000 francs a year. 
Three years afterwards, in 1814, the Emperor 
dissolved the Council. What became of the poor 
page's pension ? 

In the year 1811 there was broad sunshine 
in France ; though a shadow fell on the land 
when 100,000 quite young men were drafted into 
the army towards the close of the year. The 
generous awards that the Emperor had made to 
his followers had given a brilliancy to social life at 
Paris almost equal to what it had been under the 


kings. The Emperor desired it, and most of his 
officers did not need telling twice. Most of them 
had also contrived to secure so many valuables 
and so much money that they returned with 
waggon-loads from every campaign. The salons 
of their wives and the splendid festivities they gave 
when they had any time at home in peace, were a 
welcome reward for the long days of war, when 
no one had spared himself and from which they 
brought wounds and injuries to Paris. There was 
Napoleon's own family, with the Queen of Naples 
at its head, and even the Tuileries, which witnessed 
a continuous series of festive gatherings. More- 
over, many members of the old nobility returned 
to their mysterious hotels on the Boulevard St. 
Germain. Some went on to the court and 
accepted service in it, and some of the best names 
are found in the army under Napoleon as well 
as under the Bourbons. 

The higher circles at Paris were, therefore, as 
brilliant as ever. The lower strata of the popula- 
tion were content. The Emperor brought plenty 
of honour and fame, but he also brought work 
and business. He had an eye for everything, and, 
although he had a close knowledge only of the 
military section of his people, his practical 
judgment was of service to many branches of 
commerce. Paris was always his heaviest task. 
He once complained to Fouche : ' I shall be 
delighted if you can assure me that the faubourg 
St. Germain is satisfied. I may tell you that in 
all my battles, in the greatest dangers, even in 


the middle of the desert, the question was always 
in my mind what will Paris say, especially the 
faubourg St. Germain ?' There was a gulf between 
Napoleon Bonaparte and Paris that could never 
be filled. He was never a Parisian ; he was not 
even sufficiently French. 

It is not easy to say what subtle fluid it 
is that gives its character to a great city a 
fluid of which everyone who feels himself a genuine 
Parisian, and insists on being regarded as such, 
must have a small drop. There is about Paris 
and everything Parisian a certain elegant perfume 
of depravity. Everything seems to be edged 
with a narrow red border. Napoleon was entirely 
devoid of it. He was, to his finger-tips, as hard 
and angular as crystal, without the stamp of any 
society, least of all that of Paris. 

Now that he had founded a dynasty and 
put his troublesome metropolis in good humour, 
he felt himself superior to all the princes that he 
knew. The Tsar alone was an exception. As 
early as 1805 Napoleon had seen clearly that the 
Tsar would not allow Austria to fall too low. In 
1810 Russia had abruptly withdrawn from the 
Tilsit arrangement, and left the continental system. 
Large musters of troops along the frontier of the 
Grand Duchy of Warschau seemed to forebode 
no good. But he had always evinced a curious 
attitude toward Russia, and he now hesitated to 
admit as a fact the patent defection of the Tsar 
to England and the other princes. He never 
understood the invincible comradeship that bound 


the other princes together, and alienated them 
from himself. He had learned from history, as 
we have seen a hundred years after his day, that 
the enmity of kings never lasts long. After a 
certain time, after they have aired their armies 
and bled their peoples, they come together again 
and kiss each other on railway platforms, and the 
news flies over the telegraphic system of the world. 
He did not understand that if he had been a 
king's son a bastard, at least the others, 
impressed by his superiority, would have opened 
their circles to him and his son. But to him, as 
he was, the usurper, the child of the revolution 
never ! He might humble them and trade with 
their territory and capitals, but they would rather 
die than seriously recognise Napoleon as an equal. 
Bernadotte might do very well on the distant 
throne of Sweden. In the first place they needed 
him as a general, and further, they despised him, 
and let him feel that they did so. Napoleon was 
blind to all this. Politically, he had the idea an 
idea revived in our own time that France in 
alliance with Russia had the fate of Europe in 
its hand ; personally, he believed that the Tsar 
Alexander was his friend at the bottom. Sagacious 
as he was, suspicious even on the slightest indica- 
tions, he clearly thought during the whole time, 
even when he was preparing to advance against 
Russia, that by a personal interview with Alexander 
preferably after he had thoroughly beaten him 
he could restore the friendly relations of Tilsit 
and Erfurt, commit him against England, and 


restore the equilibrium in Europe that he destined 
for his son. 

When he saw clearly in February, 1812, that 
St. Petersburg had played him false, and had no 
intention of sending Count Nesselrode as extra- 
ordinary envoy to Paris, as he had long wished, 
he sent for Colonel Chernicheff, an adjutant of 
the Tsar who was at Paris, and gave him, in 
friendly mood, a number of explanations and a 
private letter to the Tsar. Colonel Chernicheff 
bowed and thanked him. But two days after his 
his departure from Paris it was discovered that 
he had abused his position, and bribed a sub- 
ordinate official in the ministry of war to give him 
a correct account of the strength of the French 
army. The official was arrested ; but the per- 
fidious Russian had got too good a start. They 
sent after him as quickly as possible, but he 
reached St. Petersburg with his prize. 

The Tsar's reply to the letter that Napoleon 
sent by Colonel Chernicheff was brought by 
Baron Serobin in April. It contained an ex- 
pression of Russia's desire that the French 
troops should evacuate Prussia and withdraw 
across the Rhine. Napoleon said that this was 
merely diplomatic effrontery, and would not take 
it literally. He sent Count Nar bonne as extra- 
ordinary envoy to St. Petersburg, and told him 
to treat directly and personally with the Tsar, hi 
accordance with the instructions of the Emperor 
Napoleon. A few days later the Russian ambas- 
sador, Prince Kourakin, broke off the negotiations 


that he had been conducting for some months 
with the Due de Bassano, and the Emperor left 
Paris on May 9th, 1812. The Empress accom- 
panied him to Dresden. 

It was the beginning of the great Russian 


In the year 1808, when the alliance still held 
good between Russia and France, Marshal Berna- 
dotte occupied Jutland with Spanish troops, for 
the purpose of threatening Sweden on that side in 
order that Russia might annex Finland without 
opposition. As a fact, the marshal had explicit 
orders from the Emperor to do nothing against 
Sweden. But he concealed this part of his orders, 
and afterwards boasted of his inactivity, as if 
Sweden ought to be grateful to him for it. When 
however, it became clear, in the year 1811, that 
war was bound to break out between Napoleon 
and Alexander, Bernadotte pointed out to the 
French ambassador at Stockholm that it would 
be a great help to Napoleon if a Swedish army 
were to invade Finland. 

For this service the Swedish Crown-prince 
demanded Norway. He had the effrontery even, 
Thiers says, to threaten to injure the French, if 
they did not support him in the taking of Norway ; 
a remarkable procedure when we remember that 


he had himself worn the French uniform only a 
short time previously. He could never forget 
that Napoleon did not enter into his plans in 
regard to Norway. As he chiefly owed his 
elevation to the position of heir to the throne to 
the success of the French army, and as he by no 
means improved on closer acquaintance for 
people soon found that he was vain, boastful, and 
prodigal of empty promises, while his military 
talent was very far below what he thought it to 
be it was a fine dream that he would win favour 
in Sweden by this annexation. 

In November, 1811, he had a conversation 
with M. Alquier, the French ambassador at 
Stockholm. After a few desultory observations 
on certain privileges that English merchants had 
enjoyed at Goteborg, Bernadotte audaciously 
asked ' why France rewarded his services so 
badly ?' The ambassador hinted that the throne 
of Sweden was a very fair acknowledgment. If, 
says Thiers, one could have looked into the future 
at that moment, one would certainly have treated 
this foolish conceit with moderation. But we can 
understand the bitterness of the French ambas- 
sador. There are things that prove insupportable 
even under the menace of death. The new-baked 
crown-prince was extremely arrogant throughout 
the conversation. He recalled all the battles in 
which he had taken part and declared as he 
used to do amongst his confidants that he had 
won the battle of Austerlitz (where he had not 
fired a shot) ; the battle of Friedland (where he 


was not even present) ; and the battle of Wagram 
(where he had taken to flight both days with his 
4 granite column '). 

He then went on to say that he knew all 
about the bad feeling there was in regard to him 
at Paris ; but he now ruled a race of giants, who 
adored him, and before whom no enemy could 
stand once he led them forward. ' That is too 
much,' cried the ambassador. But Bernadotte, 
who was in a state of feverish excitement, called 
out to his boy Oscar : ' Isn't it true ? You will 
follow the example of your father, and prefer 
death to disgrace.' M. Alquier reported the 
whole conversation to Napoleon. The Emperor 
smiled, and broke all connection with Sweden. 
This caused some concern in Sweden, and both 
the old king and the crown-prince endeavoured 
to remedy the breach. But at the same time 
Bernadotte made secret overtures, on his own 
account, to Russia and England. He said, in 
explanation of his treachery to his benefactor, 
that Napoleon had unfortunately pursued him 
with jealousy throughout his whole life. 

The truth was that jealousy was at the 
bottom of Bernadotte's hatred from the beginning. 
Jealous as he was by nature, he dared to be 
envious of the man who should have been far 
above the range of his jealousy ; for there could 
be no comparison whatever between General 
Bernadotte and General Bonaparte. We can, 
more or less, understand his jealousy of Moreau, 
Massena, Lannes, or Davoust, though they were 


all far superior to him. But for him to be jealous 
of Napoleon only shows his narrow-mindedness 
and slender intelligence. 

After reading these things about Bernadotte, 
I was rather amazed to hear King Oscar II say in 
1896 : ' The one man who could have taken 
Napoleon's place was my grandfather.' He said 
it so quietly and unhesitatingly that one could 
see this was the way he had been taught history. 

On May 20th, 1812, the French imperial 
couple were at Dresden. Napoleon feared that 
possibly, in view of the actual relations between 
the Russian and French courts, Count Narbonne 
would not succeed in reaching the Tsar personally. 
And, as he thought everything depended on that, 
he thought he would make one more effort to 
attain his end through his ambassador at St. 
Petersburg, Count Lauriston. He therefore said 
to Maret, the Duke of Bassano : ' Write to 
Lauriston, and tell him to go to Wilna (where the 
Emperor Alexander was with the army). Let 
him know that, as I wish to bring this war of 
words to an end, I command him to break 
through all formalities and see the Tsar in person, 
and learn from his own lips something that may 
lead to an understanding between us.' 

When Lauriston received the order he at 
once asked for a passport to leave the capital and 
go to Wilna. He did not obtain one. In the 
meantime, a court such as Europe had never seen 
before and will never see again, had gathered 
about Napoleon and the Empress, who were 


staying with the aged King of Saxony at Dresden. 
The Emperor and Empress of Austria had come 
of their own initiative to greet their daughter and 
son-in-law and wish him success in his great 
campaign. The King of Prussia was there. He 
offered his son as an adjutant to Napoleon, though 
the Emperor declined the offer out of delicacy. 
All the kings and ruling princes from the rest of 
Germany came with their warmest wishes and an 
assurance of loyalty in the struggle against the Tsar, 
who now appeared to be the common enemy ! 

It was during the stay at Dresden that the 
elder Count Segur made his famous mot. He 
happened to come late to a sitting, and the 
Emperor glanced sharply at him. The astute 
master of ceremonies answered : ' Your Majesty 
must forgive me for coming late. I was detained 
there was such a crowd of kings in the ante- 


All these princes were to send troops to take 
part in the campaign. The Emperor had taken 
a liking to Prince Schwartzenberg at Paris, and 
wished him to lead the Austrian army, which was 
to advance across the Russian frontier in the 
south-west, and serve as cover and support to the 
grand army. There was not one of these foreigners 
who did not secretly wish that Napoleon would 
fare so badly that they might venture to abandon 
him. This feeling grew especially in Germany. 
The national upheaval had begun that sought 
to wipe out the unnatural frontiers between the 
smaller States of the illtreated nation. It was 


not surprising that there were thoughts of 
vengeance everywhere, and that all were ready 
to east off the frightful burden. 

But it will be a matter of wonder for all time 
and an outrage on human honour to see the 
complicated intrigues of Bernadotte in the 
beginning of 1812. To the English party in 
Sweden he declared that he would not be 
Napoleon's slave, and that he thought most of the 
trade and advantages of his own kingdom. To 
his own party, which had chosen him as a general 
of Napoleon, he spoke in a lofty tone of the 
honour of the Swedish arms. To the Allies he 
said that he was prepared to cast off the yoke 
of France at the first signal. He would land with 
30,000, if not 50,000, Swedes and annihilate the 
French in Poland, if they would only guarantee 
him Norway. Foreign powers could hardly credit 
his perfidy, and the King of Prussia especially 
felt himself injured. Bernadotte even went so 
far, in his desire to aid Russia, as to offer to 
bring about peace with the Turks. He was 
everywhere the most active enemy of France. 

On April 5th, Sweden contracted an alliance 
with Russia, which promised to help it in the 
annexation of Norway. The condition was to 
remain secret. The Swedish cabinet was to deny 
officially that there was any alliance with Russia, 
and at a given moment its neutrality was to be 
converted into war with France. It was one of 
the most shameless instances of perfidy that 
history has ever known. 


In the meantime the crown-princess Desideria, 
who was still at Paris occupied with other things, 
and could not be induced to go to Stockholm, 
began to regret the ill-feeling between Sweden 
and France, and tried to effect a reconciliation. 
Hence we find Bernadotte sending M. Signeul to 
Maret, who was with the Emperor at Dresden, 
with two documents. The first, the official note, 
declared candidly that for the moment Sweden 
was substantially on Russia's side, but Bernadotte 
again made a ridiculous proposal to mediate 
between Alexander and Napoleon. The other, 
the secret note, said that Bernadotte had no 
interest in Finland ; if he were guaranteed Norway 
he was ready to conclude an alliance with France 
at once. Napoleon who was perfectly aware of 
the secret treaty with Russia on April 5th, cried : 
4 The scoundrel ! I want to hear no more of him.' 

The grande armde, when it marched eastwards 
from its headquarters in all its splendour in the 
spring of 1812, was made up as follows. The 
first corps, under Marshal Davoust, consisted of 
six divisions, the main strength of which were the 
divisions of Morand, Friant, and Gudin. The 
rest of the corps was mixed with Bavarian and 
Dutch regiments and Poles. Under Davoust 
there was also General Grawert with 17,000 
Prussians. The corps consisted in all of 114,000 
men of good troops. Besides the three generals, 
Gudin, Morand, and Friant, Davoust had also 
Compans and Pajol, the engineer Haxo, and the 
distinguished General Friedrich. 


'-. r '" 

The second corps was led by Marshal Oudinot. 
He had with him Generals Merle and Maison, 
and the divisions of Legrand and Verdiers the 
old soldiers of Lannes and Mass6na. Altogether, 
with the cavalry under General Dumerc, there were 
40,000 men. The third corps was commanded by 
Marshal Ney with two divisions of veteran 
soldiers, who had been trained by the Duke of 
Montebello. There were also in it the Wiirtem- 
bergers, who had served before under Ney. That 
meant 39,000 men, with two corps of curassiers 
from the cavalry-reserve : 10,000 men. The 
fourth corps was under Prince Eugene, with Junot 
second in command. It included Generals 
Grouchy and Broussier, the two brothers Delzon, 
and the best soldiers of the Italian army 
45,000 men altogether. The fifth corps 
numbered 26,000 men of all arms, mostly Poles, 
under the command of Prince Poniatowski. The 
sixth corps consisted of 25,000 men, mostly 
foreigners who had served in the French army 
since 1809, under General St. Cyr. The seventh 
corps was under General Reynier ; 17,000 men, 
mostly Saxons, who were to act with the Poles. 
The eighth corps consisted of King Jerome with 
18,000 Westphalians and Hessians. 

Besides these there were four corps of 
the reserve-infantry, divided amongst Davoust, 
Oudinot, and Ney. The rest, 15,000 fine horsemen 
marched with the Imperial Guard. The Guard 
was commanded by Marshals Mortier and Lef ebvre, 
and distributed in two corps ; the old guard, 


consisting of the green mounted rifles and the blue 
foot-grenadiers ; and the young Guard, sharp- 
shooters and light cavalry. In all there were 
47,000 men, including 6,000 picked cavalrymen 
and 200 guns with service. Then there was the 
corps of engineers, consisting of sappers, miners, 
bridge-constructers, and military artificers of all 
kinds ; and the artillery and baggage with full 
equipment and horses there were 18,000 horses 
in these two trains alone. 

In the active army that marched against 
Russia there were 423,000 experienced soldiers, 
namely, 200,000 foot, 70,000 horse, and 30,000 
artillery with 1,000 guns, besides six trains of 
bridges, ambulances, and supplies for one month. 
As a reserve there was the ninth corps under 
Marshal Victor, and the tenth corps under 
Augereau, in the neighbourhood of Magdeburg, 
which were to keep up the complement of the 
army. The total number of men to face the 
Russians was 620,000. Besides these there were 
150,000 men in French depots and fortresses, 
50,000 men in Italy, and 300,000 fighting in the 
Spanish Peninsula under the command of generals 
like Massena, Soult, and Suchet. The entire 
French forces under the supreme command of one 
man amounted to more than a million armed 

If we consider the representation of the 
different nationalities in the great army against 
Russia, we have the following figures ; 370,000 
were French; 50,000 Poles; 20,000 Italians; 


and 10,000 Swiss. These could all be counted 
upon as reliable soldiers. But there were also 
150,000 Prussians, Bavarians, Saxons, Wiirtem- 
bergers, Westphalians, Croatians, Spanish, and 
Portuguese, who were all more or less unreliable 
and dangerous. As I said, Napoleon did not 
concern himself about this. To him soldiers were 
soldiers and nothing else. Moreover, there was 
such a feeling of hostility between the smaller 
States and between the north and the south that 
Germans often fought Germans with great zeal 
under Napoleon's banner ; at least until the day 
when the French administration pressed so heavily 
on them that the princes were forced to seek the 
aid of their peoples. 

On June 17th the Emperor reached Dantzig. 
From there he proceeded to Konigsberg, and 
reviewed Davoust's six model divisions on the 
route. On the 18th he reached Insterburg, where 
he found the banks of the Pregel covered with 
supplies of all kinds. At the same time 220,000 
soldiers, ready for the fight, converged on the 
place by different routes. On June 19th he at 
last received precise information that the Emperor 
Alexander could not be induced to see Lauriston. 
He had now to rely on force. The Tsar must be 
compelled. One way or the other he was deter- 
mined to see the Tsar in person. And so Napoleon 
crossed the Niemen. 

He proposed to advance into Russia through 
the district between the Dnieper, where it turns 
southwards near Orscha, and the Dwina, where 


it flows northwards near Ostrowno. The first 
movement of the Russians was to draw up their 
northern army, under General Barclay de Tolly, 
at the fortified camp of Drissa, where the Tsar 
himself was, and seemed to be preparing for a 
fight. The southern army, under Prince Bagration, 
was to be brought into touch with the northern 
by marching rapidly northwards and slipping 
past the advancing French. Napoleon's plan 
was to prevent the junction with the help of 
Davoust's corps, keep the two Russian armies 
apart, engage them separately, and drive Bag- 
ration into the morasses. Meantime, the Tsar 
had retreated so far without the great and decisive 
battle that Napoleon was eager to engage in, 
that the French reached Wilna, the old capital 
of Poland. 

The Poles, so often deluded, thought that 
their day had come at last. The Polish nobility 
declared that the kingdom of Poland was re-estab- 
lished, and sent a deputation to Napoleon asking 
him to recognise it. That would be enough for 
them. But Napoleon, who never had much 
sympathy with the national aspirations of the 
Poles, gave an equivocal reply. His words 
deprived the Poles of all spirit and hope, and 
caused great disappointment even in France. 

Meantime, if Napoleon's manoeuvre was to 
succeed, and the junction of De Tolly and Bag- 
ration to be prevented, King Jerome ought to 
be much further advanced than he was with his 
army-corps. As a matter of fact, even a strong 


general would not have been able to get so far 
by the end of June on account of the bad weather 
and the violent rains. But Napoleon, who was 
waiting at Wilna, was impatient ; so was Davoust. 
At last King Jerome received an order, in a 
somewhat offensive form, to put himself under the 
command of Davoust. Jerome felt aggrieved, as 
was quite natural. He left the army and returned 
home. This quarrel between the two brothers 
lost Napoleon the favourable moment when 
Bagration might have been isolated and ruined. 
What was even worse, eleven valuable June days 
were spent idly at Wilna. 

That was precisely what the Russians hoped, 
and what those Frenchmen dreaded who knew 
the Russian climate ; it meant that the campaign 
would run into the winter. The story was going 
round the Russian quarters of the smith who 
laughed when someone showed him a French 
horse-shoe, that had been found on the road. 
' Not one of those horses will ever leave Russia, 
if they are here when the frost comes,' said the 
smith. The French horse-shoes had neither spikes 
nor barbs, and it would be impossible for the 
horses to drag guns and heavy waggons up and 
down hills when the roads were hard and slippery. 
When Bonaparte was a young general on his 
early campaigns, he would jump out of his carriage 
when there was some lengthy delay on the march 
and stand at the side of the road, and point to 
one of the heavier waggons, with the question : 
* What is in this waggon ?' The officer who was 


responsible had to ride up. The entire contents 
of the waggon had to be laid out on the field and 
checked harness, horse-cloths, nails, tools, screws, 
metal-work, etc. The unfortunate young officer 
would have to give an account of the smallest 
details, and the general knew perfectly well what 
ought to be there. If the young man had to 
admit some blunder or other, he might pass into 
eternal oblivion ; but if he was any good he 
might die a general. The Russian campaign was 
not equipped in this way. 

When Napoleon at last marched on Drissa 
at the close of June, the Tsar quitted his strong 
position, though they had worked at it for a 
whole year to make it impregnable. He retreated 
as far as St. Petersburg, and remained there. At 
Napoleon's command all the French troops reached 
the Dwina on the same day, but they found 
nothing but the empty camp. The campaign 
had to go on, without a decisive battle having 
been fought, with the same end in view to keep 
the two Russian armies apart. Barclay de Tolly 
retreated steadily before the advance of the main 
army. At the beginning of July he seemed to 
be going to take up a stand at Witebsk, in order 
to give Bagration time to come up and join 
him at Smolensk. But Bagration encountered 
Davoust at Mohilew, and the French marshal had 
one of his great days. He inflicted such a crushing 
defeat on Bagration that there could be no more 
question of a junction with Tolly at Smolensk. 

In some mysterious way Prince Bagration 


succeeded in sending the news of his defeat through 
or round the French lines, and on the morning of 
July 27th, when Napoleon and the entire main 
army reached Witebsk, anxious for a decisive 
battle, they found Barclay de Tolly in full retreat 
once more. There was no pitched battle, such 
as the French had hoped for, though there was 
a sharp skirmish at Ostrowno, in which Murat 
and Eugene won. In the course of this fight a 
band of young Parisians, about 300 in number, 
who belonged to the ninth regiment of the line, 
cut their way through a mass of Russian curassiers 
before the eyes of the whole French army. The 
Emperor himself saw their bravery, and called 
out : * Each of them has deserved the cross.' 

It was a fresh disappointment for Napoleon 
that there was no action sufficiently decisive at 
Witebsk to bring on the question of negotiations. 
At this time the French army was suffering terribly 
from the heat, and the desertions began especially 
amongst the Germans. Napoleon remained quiet 
at Witebsk for a fortnight. He was not like his 
old self at all in this campaign. Astonishment has 
often been expressed that he did so little every 
day, since his power had been mainly in the 
swiftness with which he would astonish the enemy 
and push on a campaign. Even granting that he 
had less idea what a Russian winter was like than 
a general of his rank ought to have had, and much 
less than he would himself have been content 
with in earlier years, nevertheless, it was very 
unlike his real self to waste so much time at Wilna 


and then at Witebsk. It seems to me that 
everything points to the conclusion that Napoleon 
had expected every day to receive the adjutant 
from the Tsar, who would turn the war into an 
agreement between them. He was convinced all 
along that the Tsar was deceived by his followers, 
and only needed correct information to accept 
the modern ideas that Napoleon wished to press 
on him. The same opinion of the Tsar of Russia's 
attitude toward modern ideas has been entertained 
by many shrewd observers a hundred years since 
those days. 

The army took up quarters in the vicinity of 
Witebsk. Supplies were collected, and deserters 
and stragglers were brought up to the colours. 
Although not more than 7,000 men had fallen as 
yet, there were 150,000 men missing from the 
ranks. The destruction of the grand army during 
the Russian campaign must not be attributed 
wholly to the cold and the terrible retreat. In 
reality, the army was ruined before it reached 
Moscow ; partly because there were far too many 
foreigners in it, and partly because there had been 
a foolish levy of boys. The latter could fight, it 
is true, but they were unable to endure the 
exceptional strain and privations of the campaign. 
Moreover, a large number of the cavalry were 
already compelled to go on foot. When we 
examine the map showing the places of battle 
on the march in and out of Russia, we see that 
the French Bword penetrated to no great depth 
in the bulky colossus. From the Niemen to 


Mohilew, Ostrowno, Polotsk, Krasnoi (the first 
time), Smolensk, Walutina, Borodino, and burning 
Moscow, and back through the fields of Winkowo, 
Malo, Jaroslawetz, Wiasma, Wop, Krasnoi (the 
second time), Beresina, Wilna, and Kowno, is not 
a long stretch of road. But it is a long stretch 
of history. 

During his halt as Witebsk, the Emperor 
ruled with the same regularity as if he were at 
the Tuileries, except that he was thinking day and 
night of the movements of his troops and the 
care of his wounded. Nothing could daunt him ; 
neither Bernadotte's desertion nor the rising in 
Russia, which the Tsar himself had instigated, 
and which caused the French to find only deserted 
country and abandoned or burning towns. He 
seemed to know nothing of the revulsion of feeling 
or the murmuring that began to be heard about 
him. Brooding alone over his plans and unshake- 
able in his resolution, he determined to pursue 
the retreating Russians with the main army, while 
keeping an eye on his flanks to the north and 
south. Orders were given to Prince Schwartzen- 
berg and Marshals Victor and Augereau to hasten 
to the relief of General Reynier, who was 
threatened by General Tormasoff from the south. 
In the north he had Macdonald in the vicinity of 
Diinaburg, and Marshal Oudinot was engaged in 
a fight with General Wittgenstein at Polotsk. 
General Gouvin St. Cyr was ordered to strengthen 
Oudinot's position with his Bavarian corps. 


On August 17th Marshal Oudinot decided to 
withdraw a little, in order to take up a better 
position. Wittgenstein thought the manoeuvre 
was a retreat and advanced on him. In the battle 
that resulted the marshal was severely wounded, 
and had to be carried off. The command fell to 
General St. Cyr, who was also wounded, and he 
led the battle from a small Polish carriage. 

This cool leader and great tactician executed 
a masterly manoeuvre at Polotsk on August 18th. 
He suddenly converted an ostensible retreat into 
a strenuous attack, and so won a victory which 
would have been even more brilliant if his carriage 
had not broken down at the decisive moment. 
He fell underneath the horses, and was only 
rescued with difficulty ; and he at once resumed 
command. He took 1,500 prisoners and 14 guns, 
and gave Wittgenstein a severe lesson. After 
Polotsk the Emperor made him Marshal. Two 
Bavarian generals, Derois and Lieben, fell in this 
battle. Derois had led the Bavarians in 1805 
at Ulm, and in 1809 at Wagram. He and his 
inseparable friend, Lieben, had spent their lives 
together from boyhood. They both became 
generals in Napoleon's service, and both fell on 
the same day at Polotsk. 

On August 17th Napoleon reached Smolensk, 
the fortified outskirts of which he attacked at 
two in the afternoon with the famous divisions of 
Morand and Gudin. General Ledru, of Ney's 
army-corps, attacked the suburb of Krasnoi, the 
Russians making a determined resistance in all 


the fortresses round the town. On the right wing 
the Poles, under Poniatowski, fought like lions ; 
they were taking the city of their fathers once 
more. By five o'clock the positions on the left 
bank of the river, under the Emperor's eye, were 
taken. But General de Tolly brought up strong 
reinforcements General Baggowouth with his 
whole corps, the Prince of Wiirtemberg with a 
division of grenadiers and two battalions of the 
Russian Guard. It was six o'clock before they 
got far enough for the guns to reach the walls of 
the town. Eventually the French took it by 
storm, but it was so dark that Barclay de Tolly 
succeeded in withdrawing the remainder of his 
army from Smolensk. 

The French regiments dashed in in triumph, 
proud of a victory that had caused Russia 
such severe losses, but it was quite deserted, 
and very shortly the whole of Smolensk was 
in flames. The bulletin that announced in 
France the taking of a town that was reduced 
to ashes excited little enthusiasm, if not the 
reverse ; and even in the army some of 
the officers began to make disquieting remarks. 
But Napoleon pressed on from day to day in 
pursuit of the Russian armies in front of him. 
From Smolensk he sent the divisions of Compans 
and Gudin, General Bruyeres' cavalry and King 
Joachim Murat, to head off Barclay de Tolly. At 
the same time Junot was ordered to take up a 
position at Walutina and cut off the Russians 
from the narrow passes. But General de Tolly 


altered his original plan of retreating northwards 
towards St. Petersburg. He determined to make 
one more attempt to join Bagration on the road 
to Moscow. 

Napoleon learned this and dispatched Ney in 
all haste to intercept him. The armies met at 
Walutina, and Ney won a brilliant victory, but 
here again, as in the whole of this campaign, 
something untoward happened. They had at 
last succeeded in attacking Barclay de Tolly's 
army apart from Bagration, and in such a position 
that not a single man could have escaped if 
General Junot had done his duty and taken up a 
position, as he was ordered, in the passes, which 
formed the only escape from the field at Walutina. 

When General Grouchy brought the news of 
the battle to the Emperor, he rode over to Ney. 
All were agreed, when they saw the field of battle, 
that the carelessness and stupidity of the Duke 
of Abrantes alone were responsible for the failure 
to destroy or capture the whole Russian army. 
This brought his brilliant career to a close. 
Napoleon had loaded him with wealth, though he 
had dissipated this with the most tasteless prodi- 
gality and undermined his own strength with his 
excesses. He was one of the bravest and most 
daring, the first pistol-shot in the army, a good 
comrade and fine fellow ; but a dangerous man, 
with unrestrained passions. Whether his good 
luck was the cause, or his wild life, or a sabre-cut 
on the head (which the Duchess of Abrantes 
always alleged as his excuse), it is hard to say, but, 


after being unreliable and fantastic all his life, 
he became worse and worse, and ended in insanity. 

At Smolensk, where Junot was to lead the 
attack, his orders were obscure and unsound. 
Murat galloped up to him. 

' What are you doing ?' he shouted. ' Why 
don't you advance ?' 

' ; My Westphalians won't move.' 

c I will put some spirit into them,' cried King 
Joachim, and he flung himself on the Russians 
with a few squadrons and swept everything before 

' See that ?' he shouted again to Junot. 
' There is half your marshal's staff won for you. 
Go in now and finish it yourself. The Russians 
are lost.' 

Junot would not move however. His mind 
was really already going, though the others did 
not know it. When he failed in his duty again 
at Walutina and spoiled Ney's fine victory, 
Napoleon angrily determined to take his command 
away from him, but the other generals inter- 
ceded for him, and he forgave him on account 
of their old friendship. But things went from 
bad to worse with him, and he had to be sent 
back to Illyria, where he was governor. Here he 
betrayed his condition in a very remarkable way. 
He gave a grand ball at his residence, and came 
to it with his shoes whitened instead of blackened, 
his sword and all his decorations round his neck, 
his hair curled, a three cornered hat under his 
arm, and white gloves in other respects as naked 
as a savage, 


He was sent at once to Milan. Here he had 
six horses harnessed to his finest carriage, sat on 
the coachman's box in full uniform, and as he 
drove through the streets of Milan filled his 
carriage with loose women. He was then sent to 
his native place, Montbard, in France, and put an 
end to his life in a fit of madness by leaping down 
from a garden wall and breaking his thigh. He 
was so violent that it was impossible to bind the 
leg, and he died in July, 1813. The Duchess of 
Abrantes bore with him in everything, and tried 
to keep him on his feet, and in good relations to 
the Emperor, as long as she could. In the end 
Junot had utterly forfeited the Emperor's friend- 
ship, though in earlier years he had been as good 
a friend of Napoleon as it was possible for anyone 
to be. 

When the French army reached Wiasma on 
August 29th, they found the people in flight, as at 
Smolensk, and half the town in flames. They 
had to extinguish the fire themselves and save the 
great stores of provisions that were not yet 
destroyed. At this place the quarrel broke out 
between Davoust and Murat. The steady and 
methodical Duke of Auerstadt had for some time 
been annoyed with the volatile King of Naples, 
as he took off the cavalry every morning and 
exhausted them, so that they were being weakened 
every day. He was still less disposed to support 
these useless cavalry-demonstrations with his 
good infantry. He therefore forbade General 
Compans, in presence of the whole corps, to obey 


King Joachim. Napoleon himself came up, and, 
though he must have felt that Davoust was right, 
he was influenced by the relationship to Murat 
and his kingly dignity, and ordered Compans to 
put himself under Murat's command. 

After Smolensk the army was weakened to a 
disquieting extent, and Berthier had the courage 
to point out to the Emperor that the outlook was 
bad. Napoleon called him an old woman, and 
asked him if he wanted to go to Paris. From the 
time when he had called them out on this cam- 
paign, after they had had a short rest some at 
Paris, others on their estates, or as governors and 
commanders in various parts of Prance, which 
was then a good deal of Europe there had been 
a certain amount of bad feeling amongst the 
officers, especially the higher and older ones. 
The high positions and good incomes he had 
created for them had been used by them and 
their wives in a taste for luxury and splendour. 
Most of them, moreover, like the Emperor himself, 
were between forty and fifty years of age. Their 
ambition was gradually fading. They had got 
enough ; and their families, with which they only 
spent the brief interval between two campaigns, 
clung to them and wanted to detain them. 

They all appeared at the Emperor's summons, 
nevertheless, and when they had shaken off their 
wives and children, and found themselves in the 
saddle once more, with the old soldiers and the 
eager young men crowding round them, they 
returned to their former spirit, and rushed on to 


fresh victories like the brave men that they were. 
Especially at the beginning of the campaign, when 
they marched eastwards with their fine regiments 
through the conquered territories, from town to 
town, and castle to castle, like the lords of the 
world ; when they joined their comrades and 
friends at Dresden and saw all the crowned heads 
of Europe bowing before their Emperor they felt 
themselves in the grande armee once more, and 
every man from the highest officer to the common 
soldier was a hero. 

No one could possibly have foreseen the 
horrors they were to encounter, but the march 
into Russia was from the first so utterly different 
from all they had been accustomed to, that the 
officers soon began to be uneasy. There had 
always been a certain number of malcontents, but 
they had never yet ventured to express their 
feelings, because Napoleon went on from one 
victory to another, and there was neither time 
nor mood for criticism. Now it was different. 
They began to find that he was a changed man. 
Possibly he was ; but they themselves were not 
the men of a few years before. 


As the French drew nearer to Moscow, the 
excitement increased in Russia and there was a 
growing dissatisfaction with Barclay de Tolly. A 
considerable party at the court and the great mass 
of the people showed an irresistible repugnance 
to the retreat-system, and at last everybody 
demanded that they should stand and make a 
fight. Public opinion singled out the elderly, 
one-eyed Field-marshal Kutusow as commander. 
It was not he that had lost the battle of Austerlitz. 
They had followed General Weiroth's plan against 
his wish. On the other hand he had defeated 
the Turks several times, and was a great leader 
and a prudent and sagacious officer. Excess had 
reduced his strength so much that he could keep 
his horse only with difficulty. He was false and 
faithless and utterly bad ; but he was patient 
and tough. 

He received the supreme command, and had 
General Bennigsen, the victor of Eylau, as chief 
of the staff. It is said that Barclay de Tolly 


wanted to give battle before Kutusow reached the 
army, but it was the aged field-marshal who had 
indicated the heights of Borodino as the battle- 

On September 5th the advancing French 
found the Russian army drawn up in line of battle 
on the heights in front of them. The important 
position Schwardina was fortified like a redoubt, 
and was defended by Prince Bagration in person. 
However, Compans' division took the redoubt 
early in the afternoon of the 5th with their usual 
brilliancy. It was the first triumph for the 
French. During the night and on the following 
day the French divisions pushed on and took up 
their positions. After a few hours' sleep in his 
tent, Napoleon mounted his horse in the early 
morning. In the midst of the confusion on the 
day before the battle M. Bausset, a stout and 
gouty officer of the palace, who was related to the 
imperial family, made his appearance. He had 
come straight from the Tuileries, and brought a 
letter from Marie Louise and a picture of the little 
King of Rome. The Emperor showed the picture 
to all the generals and officers, who had been 
brought together to receive their orders for the 
following day, and then had it placed on a chair 
in front of his tent, to the delight of the old 

The same morning Colonel Fabvrier came 
from Spain, and brought the news of the unfortu- 
nate position of Marshal Marmont. Napoleon 
was not in the least disturbed. He was at work 


the whole day making preparations for the 
victory, of which neither he nor any man in the 
army doubted for a moment. On the following 
morning, September 7th, he strode cheerfully out 
of his tent and called out to his officers : ' See 
the glorious sun, gentlemen ! That is the sun of 
Austerlitz.' His short and spirited proclamation 
to the soldiers was read to each company. ' At 
last,' it ran, ' you have come to face the great 
battle that you have sought so long. Now 
victory depends on you the victory that is a 
necessity for us all. It means abundance for us, 
good quarters, and a speedy return to our country. 
Do as you did at Austerlitz, at Friedland, at 
Witebsk, at Smolensk, and the remote future 
will tell with pride of your deeds this day. Let 
it be said of every one of you : he was in the 
great battle on the plains of Moscow.' 

Napoleon dismounted at the Schwardina 
redoubt, which Compans had taken and occupied, 
and the bloody battle of Borodino opened. The 
French have named it after the stream Moskwa 
which flows by the spot, and one of Marshal Ney's 
descendants still bears the title of Prince of 
Moskwa. Under cover of two batteries of the 
Guard under General Sorbier, General Compans 
advanced with his own division and that of 
Desaix a cousin of the great Desaix who fell at 
Marengo. They rushed the trenches that pro- 
tected the Russian left wing under General 
Bagration, and all went well for a time. In a 
very short time, however, Compans got a bullet 


in the shoulder ; Desaix, who replaced him in the 
chief command, was also severely wounded ; and 
Rapp, who took Desaix's place, was hit four 
times in quick succession first grazed twice with 
shots, then had a ball in his unlucky left arm, 
and lastly a shell caught him on the left hip 
and threw him to the ground. At the same time 
Marshal Davoust had his horse shot under him, 
and one of his pistols went off and brought him 
also to the ground. General Sorbier sent word 
to the Emperor that the Prince of Eckmiihl was 
killed. It was not so bad as that, however. 
Davoust raised himself and mounted a fresh horse. 
But these mishaps had the effect of spoiling the 
first attack. 

Napoleon hastily sent Marshal Ney to replace 
him and make a fresh attack. Meantime the 
viceroy Eugene had taken the village of Borodino. 
Bagration's redoubts, which covered Kutusow's 
left wing, were then taken successively, after hard 
fighting, by Ney and Davoust. It was still only 
nine o'clock in the morning, and the Russian left 
wing was in a very dangerous and exposed position 
and almost unsupported. General Baggowouth 
was sent to help Prince Bagration on the left wing, 
though Kutusow had for some time had quite 
enough to do with his centre, where General 
Bonami had taken the trench known as the 
great redoubt. The intrepid general made an 
obstinate resistance, until he fell covered with 
wounds, and the Russians, under General Paskie- 
witsch, re-occupied the redoubt, with heavy losses. 


Kutusow now sent considerable masses of troops 
to relieve the pressure on his left wing, but 
Napoleon sent into action a battery of the reserve 
with 24 guns. The Russians pressed forward 
once more, but General Lepoultre, St. Germain's 
curassiers, and PajoPs and Bruyeres's hussars 
opposed them, and forced them back after a 
bloody fight. 

At last Napoleon gathered all his strength to 
break the enemy's lines, which had now been 
drawn up for the third time. In face of a furious 
cannonade at short range there were 800 guns 
in action on either side Poniatowski and his 
Poles advanced on the right wing. Prince Eugene 
attacked the large redoubt with three divisions. 
General Montbrun rode like the wind at the head 
of his curassiers. He fell, and August Caulaincourt 
took over the command. He rode with the 
curassiers right into the entrance to the redoubt 
and fell there. But at the same time Prince 
Eugene advanced from another side and the 
fight ended with appalling loss to the Russians. 
However, the rest of Kutusow's army remained 
under the French fire until dark, and retreated 
during the night. 

Napoleon's victory was complete, but, like 
all the other victories in this campaign, it had no 
particular consequences. In order to thoroughly 
rout the Russian army it would have been 
necessary to use the Guard, which stood idle 
throughout the battle* It has often been ques- 
tioned whether Napoleon was right in sparing 
his best troops. 


General Segur, who had certain relations with 
Russia, his father having served under Catherine II, 
and he himself having married into the family 
Rostoptschin, has said a good deal in his memoirs 
that is vigorously denied by General Gourgaud, 
who went with Napoleon to St. Helena. Segur 
relates that in the battle of Borodino Murat had 
to seize a colonel by the throat to make 
him advance. Gourgaud, however, says this is 
impossible. The colonel in question was in 
General Friant's division, in which not a single 
man, much less a high officer, ever drew back ; 
and the division did not belie its reputation at 
Borodino, but took and held the position at 
Semenowski with its usual bravery. Segur 
describes Napoleon as ill and listless all day at 
Borodino, and says that all the generals were 
angry because he would not employ the Guard. 
Murat sent his adjutant Borelli to ask for help, 
but received none. General Mouton, Count of 
Lobau, let a part of the Guard advance on 
his own responsibility, and Lauriston at length 
received permission to go forward with the 

Gourgaud describes all this as chatter on the 
part of the * palace-official.' He declares that 
General Sorbier was under fire with part of the 
artillery of the Guard from the commencement of 
the battle ; and that is true. When the Emperor 
saw the enemy advancing on Semenowski, he 
sent to the relief of Friant's division both Murat 
and the reserve artillery of the Guard. Besides 


that, Roquet's division was made to take up a 
position as reserve behind Friant, in front of the 
young Guard. During the battle the old Guard 
was drawn up in columns of battalions at intervals 
of 60 paces behind Napoleon, and this must have 
made the enemy think they were twice as strong 
as they really were. The young Guard was in 
front of them. The line of the enemy formed a 
triangle, with the apex towards the Schwardina 
position, where Napoleon was, and the wings 
drawn back somewhat. 

Gourgand also contests everything that Segur 
has said of the Emperor's listlessness and the 
general dissatisfaction with the inactivity of the 
Guard. He will only admit that the Emperor 
lost his voice for a time on September 7th and 8th, 
but says that he commanded with his usual 
vivacity, and tired out several horses. That 
Napoleon had a cold and was unwell all day is 
quite certain ; but it is not at all probable that 
he had any other trouble, of a nature to interfere 
with his mental powers. If he would not use 
more of the Guard in compliance with Ney and 
Murat's repeated entreaties, we must remember 
that the issue was doubtful and they were far 
from Paris, and that the Guard was the only part 
of his army unaffected by the fighting. Finally, 
Napoleon could not see from the Schwardina 
trench the gap in the enemy's centre in front of 
Ney and Murat. However, these criticisms show 
that a change was beginning amongst Napoleon's 


' The bivouac at night after the battle of 
Borodino was a sad one,' says one of the surviving 
officers. ' We put one corpse on another to make 
a seat by the fire.' The imperfect victory had 
been won at an extraordinary loss in officers. 
Altogether there were 90,000 casualties on both 
sides. The Russians lost four generals, Kutaisoff, 
the two Toutchakoffs, and Prince Bagration 
himself. The French lost thirteen generals, and 
twenty others were more or less dangerously 
wounded. The most famous of all the dead 
officers was the cavalry-general Montbrun, the 
hero of Somo-Sierra, one of the best left after 
d'Hautpoul, d'Espagne, and Lasalle. August de 
Caulaincourt also was a brilliant and greatly liked 
officer, a brother of the Duke of Vicenza. Marshal 
Bessieres lost his brother General Bessieres. The 
engineer - general Lariboisiere and the brave 
General Friant each lost a son in the battle. 
General Bonami, who remained lying in the great 
redoubt with twenty wounds when the Russians 
re-occupied it, died of his wounds. Another 
victim was the handsome Canouville, who had 
become a general in the cavalry since the time 
when he received Pauline Borghese's fur with the 
diamond clasps. 

We can form some idea of the intensity of the 
fight and the nearness of the opposing forces to 
each other, when we read on the list of wounded 
officers the names of Davoust, Morand, Friant, 
Compans, Rapp, Belliard, Nansouty, St. Germain, 
Teste, and Pajol a marshal and a number of 


the leading generals of divisions. To these we 
must add hundreds of officers of all grades, men 
who had been in Italy and Egypt, and were all 
personally known to Napoleon. There had been 
such carnage immediately round him as had never 
been seen before, even at Eylau. Of the highest 
generals, only three and they were three of the 
most intrepid were quite untouched : Barclay 
de Tolly on the Russian side, and Murat and Ney 
on the French. The latter two stood like statues 
in the rain of balls and were not touched. Ney 
made his men find cover by lying down, and he 
himself stood erect in the midst of them like a 
simple grenadier captain. Murat sprang from his 
horse and preceded Friant's division on foot at 

After the battle of Borodino Kutusow 
retreated in the direction of Moscow. For a 
moment it looked as if he were going to venture 
on a battle atMoshaisk. He had sworn by his 
grey hairs to defend the old capital of the Tsars 
with his last man. But on September 14th the 
field-marshal withdrew with his defeated army 
beyond Moscow, to the bitter sorrow of his officers 
and army. He nevertheless sent a proclamation 
to Moscow that the French had lost at Borodino, 
and two bulletins were sent to St. Petersburg from 
his head-quarters announcing that the French 
had been thoroughly beaten at Moshaisk, the 
Imperial Guard annihilated, 100 guns and 1,000 
prisoners taken, including the Viceroy Eugene 
and the Duke of Auertsadt, and that the enemy 


was being pursued by General Plato w's 30,000 

The Tsar distributed great distinctions and 
awards amongst the army on the strength of this. 
The truth was, however, that Kutusow was being 
pursued so hotly by Murat and Eugene that 
General Miloradowitsch, in order to save him on 
the streets of Moscow, threatened to set the town 
on fire if a brief armistice were not granted. 
Less out of fear of the threat than from the hope 
of the result of an interview with Alexander, 
Napoleon granted the armistice. It was given 
orally, without the usual formalities. The French 
army at last looked down from the summits of 
the hills on the great city, its white buildings and 
golden domes lying like a dream in the sunshine. 
Even Napoleon lost his balance for a moment. 
The others all broke out into jubilation. 

Next day the Emperor entered the Kremlin, 
the ancient castle of the Tsars. It was the most 
remarkable of all the foreign castles he had 
visited, and his entry into it was the most romantic 
in his whole career. Moscow was not wholly 
abandoned. The French found many of the 
palaces of the Russian nobility open and provided 
with servants and all the rest. Wealthy merchants 
had put their property and stores under the 
protection of the French officers, with the intention 
of returning soon. The Kremlin was full of 
powder and arms. The city, as it was then, 
offered convenient and comfortable winter- 
quarters for the army, and Napoleon at once began 


to issue orders and to organise ; first of all in the 
army, where discipline had been relaxed, and 
many other things were not as they should be. 
He had troops enough to keep off Kutusow ; and 
now that he was in one capital and the Emperor 
of Russia in the other, he was convinced that the 
noble ruler he had met at Erfurt would reach out 
the hand of reconciliation. Peace could be con- 
cluded between himself and his friend and 
admirer in the spring. 

The soldiers, on their side, hailed Moscow as 
the end of all their trials. With boundless 
confidence in their great leader, whom fortune 
had never yet failed, they proudly turned to enjoy 
their rest in the beautiful capital of the Tsars. 
But Moscow broke into flames in the night between 
the 15th and 16th of September. The fires were 
of such a nature that the city had evidently been 
set in flames at several different points with a 
view to its total destruction. The plot was 
furthered by the Governor of Moscow. He had 
stored up masses of inflammable materials in the 
garden of his palace, and this he distributed 
amongst criminals released from the jails. These 
had to spread them throughout the city, and set 
fire to it. He had had the hose-pipes removed, 
and all the efforts of the French to master the 
fearful conflagration proved ineffectual. They 
had to withdraw step by step from the city. 
Napoleon had to leave the Kremlin, in the vaults 
of which there were masses of explosive material. 
The fire already threatened the powder-waggons 


of the Guard, which had been brought into the 

From September 16th to 18th the city 
burned day and night, aided by a strong wind 
that veered round several times. In the end four- 
fifths of the city were destroyed an immense 
stretch of desolation, as the oriental city extended 
far with its palaces and monasteries with large 
gardens and numerous outlying buildings. There 
were 15,000 wounded Russians in the hospitals. 
Prince Rostoptschin, the governor, lost all his 
wealth and the beautiful palace of his ancestors. 
' I have brought nothing with me except the coat 
I have on,' he said. It has been stated that he 
had Moscow burned down in a fit of desperate 
patriotism, without telling his design to anyone. 
That is altogether incredible. Such conduct on 
the part of a high-placed official is hardly possible 
in any country ; it is quite inconceivable in a 
country where not the slightest thing is done 
without an order from above. Prince Rostopt- 
schin sacrificed his palace and the holy city of 
Moscow because he was an obedient subject, and 
because, like every Russian, he had in his heart 
the law : ' Everything for the Tsar !' He either 
received an express command, or else he had 
powers entrusted to him that covered his desperate 
deed. The superstition that the white Tsar has 
never anything to do with the frightful things 
that happen in Russia is not confined to that 
country. The whole of Europe is stupid on 
Russian questions. Even to-day we are asked to 


play this childish game and regard the Tsar as 
the innocent dupe of his surroundings. In Russia 
nothing is done without the knowledge and wish 
of the Tsar. 

After the fire Russian peasants and French 
soldiers poured into the cellars and stores in search 
of plunder. The Emperor fixed his head-quarters 
in the Kremlin once more, as well as could be 
managed. He was determined to be there. On 
September 21st, however, General Sebastini sent 
word that he had lost sight of the enemy, and it 
was feared that they might be cut off and sur- 
rounded. In point of fact that was Kutusow's 
intention. He had marched toward the south- 
west. Murat and Bessieres, who were sent in 
search of him, drove the Russians back in the 
direction of Kaluga. Napoleon would not give 
up the hope of hearing from the Tsar. He had 
even tried a semi-official rapprochement. But he 
had to decide what to do with his army. It was 
now too weak to be able to attack Kutusow in the 
open field far in the interior of Russia. On 
the other hand the condition of Moscow made it 
impossible for them to spend the winter there. 
All the generals were for retreating to Poland. 
Napoleon was alone in his resistance to this 
proposal. It would have destroyed the idea of 
his invincibility and raised the whole of Europe 
against him. 

There was now so great a change amongst 
Napoleon's followers that he had his plan written 
down and laid before the men who up to that time 


had been accustomed only to receive orders and 
obey them. His plan was to march north-west 
until they could unite with Marshals Victor, 
St. Cyr, and Macdonald, who were in the Baltic 
provinces. With these and all the other troops 
he could bring up he would advance on St. 
Petersburg in the spring. The plan was formed 
in the early days of October. All his generals 
were opposed to a fresh march to the north and 
fresh annexations, and Napoleon could no longer 
command as he had done in more fortunate days. 
He was forced to give way. He then wanted to 
send Caulaincourt to St. Petersburg, but that 
officer declared it to be of no use. He had heard 
the same from Count Narbonne. 

These two nobles of the old court were the 
Emperor's most valued diplomatists and envoys 
in important matters, and they lived through all 
the hardships of the Russian campaign. Count 
Narbonne was the only man that preserved his 
good temper and his gaiety of manner ; the 
gentlemanly air, that was more superficial hi the 
others, was swept away hi the evil days, and their 
disappointment and irritation were plainly mani- 
fested. It is said that right down to the 
awful days on the Beresina, Narbonne would sit 
on a stone or the root of a tree every morning and 
powder his wig. Although he was in his fiftieth 
year, he escaped with his life ; but he died in 1813, 
as Governor of Torgau, after a fall from his 


General Lauriston was then sent to Kutusow 
for the purpose of securing a truce or at least an 
armistice. He was deceived and fooled at the 
Russian headquarters on all the rules of the art. 
In the meantime there was a kind of tacit armistice, 
though the Russians did not respect it. One of 
the Tsar's flying adjutants, who had been taken 
prisoner, was sent to St. Petersburg with fresh 
proposals for a rapprochement, and the Emperor 
decided to wait ten or twelve days for an answer. 
There was no idea of sending one at St. Petersburg. 

Napoleon had been informed that the frost 
would set in about the middle of November. He 
collected provisions and ammunition, repaired and 
strengthened the Kremlin, opened the theatres, 
and led France and Europe from Moscow by means 
of couriers. There are regulations of the Theatre 
Fran^ais that are dated from the Kremlin at 
this time. Meantime Russia had come into close 
touch with England. The Emperor Alexander 
also had an interview with Bernadotte at Aabo, 
where it was agreed to recognise the annexation 
of Norway, and send to Riga the Russian troops 
that were in Finland. Peace was concluded with 
Turkey, and this enabled Admiral Tschitschagow 
to assume supreme command of the troops under 
General Tormasoff that threatened the French 
retreat from the south, and lead the whole force 
northward into the district of the Beresina. The 
plan for the demolition of the retreating army 
was as follows. Wittgenstein was to attack from 
the north, Kutusow from the rear, and Admiral 


Tschitschagow, who proved himself an able general 
on land, from the south. 

When the French army had rested in Moscow 
and had once more been brought into order, there 
were still 100,000 splendid soldiers and 600 guns, 
but there was a lack of horses. The weather was 
fine, mild, and clear. Napoleon reflected all the 
time on his plan of advancing on St. Petersburg, 
but with the approach of winter his generals 
were less disposed every day to march northwards ; 
they looked rather southwards, towards Kaluga 
and the fertile provinces. While they were still 
discussing it, the news came one day when 
Napoleon was reviewing Ney's corps, that was 
to march from Moscow, that Kutusow had broken 
the armistice on October 18th, and attacked King 
Jerome during the night with an overpowering 
force. Murat was quite unprepared. As a man 
of honour he had relied on the negotiations that 
promised a few hours' rest before the cessation 
of the armistice. However, a series of brilliant 
actions and judicious manoeuvres enabled Murat 
and Poniatowski to escape with the loss of part 
of their baggage. This treacherous attack at 
Winkowo, where Kutusow sent Generals Baggo- 
wouth, Ostermann, Doctoroff, Orloff, Denisow, and 
Miiller, against Murat, Poniatowski, and Sebastiani 
who were really only in charge of advanced 
posts, became a battle of which the French might 
well be proud. But the victory had no significance 
and the Emperor was displeased with Murat, 
because he had allowed himself to be surprised. 


Napoleon then ordered an advance against 
Kutusow. Moscow was abandoned on October 

On the same day Napoleon heard of Malet' s 
conspiracy at Paris. The whole affair was really 
insignificant and more or less ridiculous, but it 
made a painful impression on the Emperor. 
General Malet was a fanatical republican, and had 
been imprisoned in 1807 for plotting against the 
constitution. In 1812 he was shut up in an 
asylum at Paris. One day he leaped out of the 
window, and ran into the city. He had a number 
of proclamations and nominations ready, and he 
began to distribute them. Some young men 
joined him, and hastily made themselves a sort of 
uniform with tricoloured scarves. At one o'clock 
in the morning Malet approached Colonel Soulier, 
a brave but stupid officer, and unacquainted with 
Malet. The latter represented himself as General 
Lamotte, and said he had come straight from 
Russia with the news that the Emperor had died 
on October 8th. He asked for a few troops to be 
put at his disposal. 

Soulier was duped and gave him 1,200 men, 
but without cartridges or flints in their locks. 
With these General Malet went to the La Force 
prison, and set free Generals Guidal and Lahorie, 
who had been incarcerated for political intrigues. 
He then issued a number of orders, went to the 
commander at Paris, General Hullin, and shot him 
through the cheek with a pistol. However, other 
officers came up, and Malet was overpowered. 


In the meantime the released General Lahorie 
entered Savary's room he was then Minister of 
Police and had him arrested and put in La Force. 
This curious state of things, however, only lasted 
half an hour. When Savary and the others came 
to their senses the whole thing fell to the ground. 
When the Minister of Police returned from the 
prison to his cabinet he found General Lahorie 
bound to a chair. But Savary never came to 
see the humorous side of the matter. 

That was the whole episode. But from the 
fact that anything of the kind could happen at 
the mere rumour of his death the Emperor saw 
how frail the security really was of his vast power, 
and how little root he and his dynasty had taken 
in the people, apart from the army. It had 
occurred to no one in Paris to hasten to the 
widowed Empress and the little heir to the throne. 
He therefore quitted Moscow, leaving Marshal 
Mortier behind to blow up the Kremlin. All now 
understood that the retreat had commenced, and 
all the French women, servants, and families, 
started with them on the long journey. The 
weather was still fine, and the soldiers were in 
good spirits. 

It was Napoleon's first intention to march 
on the old route toward Kaluga against Kutusow, 
but he suddenly altered his plan, pressed on in a 
straight line, and struck the new road to Kaluga. 
By this change he expected to avoid an encounter 
with Kutusow, and pass through the town of 
Malo-Jaroslawetz. This difficult manoeuvre was 


most ably and speedily executed. None but a 
French army could have deceived an enemy that 
was scattered all round it. The issue of it would 
have been assured if Eugene, or rather General 
Delzons, had occupied Malo-Jaroslawetz with an 
entire division, as the Emperor originally directed. 
But Kutusow had discovered Napoleon's stratagem 
and sent General Doctoroff against Delzons' 
division, which was too weak to sustain the attack. 
Delzons redeemed his fault by re-taking the 
position, but he himself was killed in the battle 
that ensued. There were two brothers of the 
name of Delzons, both generals. When the first 
one was killed, the other hastened to him, and 
soon fell dead beside him. Napoleon galloped 
up, and there was a hard fight round the little 
town of Malo-Jaroslawetz, which was lost and 
taken five or six times. At last Davoust came up 
with the divisions of Gerard and Compans, and 
drove the Russians back. But it was now growing 
dark, and the army had to remain in the position. 
After the fight at Malo-Jaroslawetz, the 
French army no longer sought a regular battle ; 
however successful, the result was always to 
weaken their forces. The weather began to be 
raw and rainy. The generals wanted to advance 
on Moshaisk in order to strike the road to Smolensk. 
On the 26th of October Napoleon had to give way 
and openly recognise that he was in retreat. It 
was the first time in his life that he yielded to the 
wishes of those about him. In the meantime 
Marshal Mortier rejoined the army. The 


retreating troops had heard the roar of the 
explosion as he blew up the Kremlin. 

It was on the march back from Moscow that 
the terrors began. The generals gradually lost 
control of the desperate soldiers, the wounded 
remained lying along the route, the powder- 
waggons were exploded, and disorder spread over 
the whole army. Even Davoust could not arrest 
it. He marched in the rear with the relics of his 
splendid first corps, and had part of the respon- 
sibility for all that was done and in the daily 
fights with the enemy. Kutusow was content to 
march as closely as he could behind the army, and 
harrass the French with his Cossacks and General 
Plato w's light cavalry. Although Davoust and 
his men performed their difficult task with 
incomparable bravery, the Emperor was so unjust 
as to remove the first corps not to give it the 
rest that it so badly needed, but because, he said, 
the marshal was too slow and methodical in his 
march. Napoleon himself rode at the head of 
the Guard, who consumed all they found, and 
burned everything behind them. He saw nothing 
of the frightful misery or the endless trudging of 
unarmed men, who should have been protected 
every day from the Cossacks and provided with 
food. He did not want to see anything. He rode 
along in silence with Berthier, who had lost his 
head and was nearly beside himself. From time 
to time the Emperor rode on to a height, and 
complained bitterly of his generals. 


One day there was an angry scene between 
the Emperor and Davoust, and they hardly spoke 
another word to each other until the end of the 
campaign. The rear-guard of the army now fell 
to Marshal Ney, the Prince of Moskwa. On 
November 9th, during the march from Dorogo- 
busch, the snow-storms began. They caused 50,000 
unarmed men and a number of women to fall out 
of the army. The whole of the cavalry, except 
the Guard, had lost their horses. The animals 
had already suffered heavily from the morasses 
and bad roads during the march, and now the 
frost set in and revealed the utter unfitness of the 
French horses for a campaign in Russia on slippery 
ice. On the way from Dorogobusch to Smolensk, 
news came that the Russian armies were advancing 
from the north and the south, and were gathering 
on the Beresina and in the marshes along the 
river. This put an end to Napoleon's plan of 
making a halt at Smolensk to collect provisions 
and join with fresh troops. During the march the 
viceroy's corps had suffered heavily on crossing 
the river Wop. It had lost all its baggage and 
guns, and a large number of men. 

Ney had been with Napoleon from his earliest 
years, in all the great battles and wherever 
desperate manoeuvres were to be carried out. But 
his name will always be most closely connected 
with the retreat from Russia. This remarkable 
man, with an unflinching courage supported by a 
frame of iron, knew neither fatigue nor illness ; 
he slept on the ground, or watched day and night, 


ate or went hungry, and nothing seemed to affect 
him. During the retreat he generally walked on 
foot amongst his men, and sometimes took 50 or 
100 men, leading them like an ordinary captain 
of infantry against the bullets and shells. He 
was always cool and collected. He regarded him- 
self as invulnerable, and really seemed to be so. 
In the middle of a fight he would take the rifle 
from the hands of a dying soldier, and shoot with 
it himself. It was he who awakened the sleepers 
and drove them into action ; he was unmoved by 
tne cries of the wounded for the ambulance. He 
would answer curtly that he had only two legs, 
and they were for moving forward, and that 
perhaps he himself would be on the ground to- 
morrow. Few men are made of iron, says Thiers, 
and one may be hard towards others when one 
does not spare oneself. 

It was between Dorogobusch and Smolensk 
that Ney began his heroic daily fights to save the 
Emperor and the remains of the grand army. 
The snow now fell heavily, and an icy-cold wind 
swept the plains. There were hardly any horses 
left, and nearly everybody walked on foot. Some 
dropped out of sheer fatigue ; others had their 
hands or feet frozen ; all were tormented with 
hunger. The few who could hold their weapons 
had to defend the unarmed against the Cossacks, 
who followed the pitiful procession day and night, 
capturing, plundering, and maltreating stragglers, 
and then leaving them to die in the snow. In 
spite of all the laxity and misery, however, there 


was a nucleus of officers and men the Emperor's 
old comrades who maintained their coolness and 
fighting power, and forced Kutusow to respect 
them. The Emperor himself met the reverse like 
a man. He rode along coolly, refusing to see 
anything, but taken up with fresh big plans. 
When he had abandoned his own plans and 
accepted those of the others, we no longer find in 
his orders the rigid accuracy of earlier days that 
rarely failed to reach the mark. 

He had directed that the army should leave 
Dorogobusch in three divisions, with an interval 
of one day between each. The consequence of 
this was that he himself reached Smolensk first 
with the Guard, occupied all the available places, 
and appropriated all the provisions in the place. 
These, however, were by no means so abundant 
as Napoleon had been led to calculate. When the 
other divisions of the troops came up there was 
frightful confusion. The magazines were plun- 
dered, men fought for quarters, all discipline was 
lost, and the disorder was unbounded. Thus, 
there was little satisfaction in the halt at Smolensk, 
where Napoleon had hoped to be able to reorganise 
the best parts of the army, and at least to find 
them rest and provisions. They had to push on 
in the same state of confusion and misery in order 
to reach the bridge at Orscha. 

At Smolensk Napoleon heard that General 
d'Hilliers had been completely beaten at Elna. 
The Emperor sent him in disgrace to Paris. 
Though it might seem an enviable lot to be sent 


home out of the horrors of Russia, the affliction 
was so overpowering for the proud officer that he 
did not get beyond Berlin. He died there of 
grief. He had been close to Napoleon ever since 
the first campaign in Italy. He was not in Egypt ; 
he had permission to return home from Malta as 
he missed his wife at Paris so much. 

Burdened with 60,000 unarmed and demoral- 
ised men, the remainder of the army left Smolensk 
in the same marching order. The Emperor 
started on the 14th, Eugene and Davoust on the 
15th, and Ney on the 16th. Kutusow had caused 
his army to retreat after the hot fight at Malo- 
Jaroslawetz, so that for a time the armies had been 
back to back. Napoleon would have made a 
different use of this opportunity if he were still 
the commander of old. Now Kutusow was after 
him again in forced marches with his large army. 
He let the Emperor pass at Krasnoi, and then 
faced Eugene and Davoust with 80,000 men under 
Rajewsky and Miloradowitsch. Delzons' division 
which had now passed to General Guilleminot, a 
part of Broussiere's cavalry, and General Ornano 
got safely past them. The viceroy also deceived 
the Russians by an astute manoeuvre and got 
past them. But Davoust was cut off, to say 
nothing of Ney, who was still a full day's march 
in the rear. 

Napoleon could by this time have reached 
Orscha with the Guard and the other troops that 
followed him, and joined Marshal Victor and the 
other reserves, but he was very uneasy about the 


two marshals who were coming on. For a couple 
of days he seemed to be in a condition of dull 
indifference. Then he shook it off, and took the 
command in person. With a staff in his hand he 
preceded the Guard on foot and led them back 
from Krasnoi, to find Davoust in the midst of a 
fearful artillery-fire, rained on him from three 
sides. The small force he flung against the masses 
of Russians consisted of the remains of good corps : 
the young Guard under Marshal Mortier, a couple 
of hundred horse from Latour-Maubourg's famous 
dragoons, and a little artillery under the unflinching 
Drouot. General Claparede was in the meantime 
to defend Krasnoi against the Russians, who were 

During the battle General Laborde was 
ordered by Marshal Mortier to retreat slowly. He 
cried out to his men : ' The marshal has ordered 
us to retreat slowly, so march on, ordinary step, 
soldiers.' They marched in perfect order, and 
were reduced to a few thousand. Kutusow was 
duped once more. He recalled Miloradowitsch's 
troops, and Davoust seized the opportunity to 
fight his way through, with heavy losses, and join 
the Emperor. But nothing could be seen or heard 
of Ney, who was a day's march in the rear. The 
great point now was to reach Orscha. As Napoleon 
marched away, he left an ambiguous order, 
because he did not want to have the responsibility 
of leaving Ney in the lurch. The order was that 
Davoust was to wait for Ney, but he was not to 
separate from Mortier. And as the latter had 


to start at the appointed time, Davoust was 
compelled to follow him. 

The next railing-point was Liady, where 
they were all full of concern about Ney, whose fate 
seemed certain. Ney had 7,000 men with him, to 
make his way through 50,000 Russians. His 
generals, Ricard, Dufour, and the brave Colonel 
Pelet, broke four times through Miloradowitsch's 
front ranks. But the 7,000 melted down to 3,000, 
and the marshal led these with bayonets levelled 
against the heights where there was a whole army 
with a vast artillery. Generals Marchand, Ledru, 
and Razoul followed him. They were flung back, 
and Ney collected them again as well as he could, 
with his usual coolness and firmness. At this 
moment a colonel came from Miloradowitsch with 
a demand for Ney's surrender, but Ney would 
neither retreat nor surrender, though his men 
were falling all round him. Colonel Pelet sat on 
his horse, both legs and one arm torn with bullets. 
He had the idea of advising the marshal to retreat 
on the village of Dubrowna, where there was a 
bridge across the Dnieper. Davoust had marched 
past just before, and had blown up the bridge 
after him. There was no escape except to venture 
on the thin ice. Ney did this during the night. 
He got across and reached Orscha with 1,500 men. 
There was, however, great rejoicing when the 
hero came in with his frozen and half-dead men, 
and they could rest for a time with their comrades. 
Napoleon, whose relations to Davoust were already 
strained, was so unjust as to support those who 


said it was Davoust who had abandoned Ney, 
whereas the Prince of Eckmiihl had merely obeyed 
the Emperor's own orders. 

At Orscha there were at the most 25,000 
armed men, and about the same number of 
stragglers ; altogether about one-eighth of the 
grand army that had crossed the Niemen in June. 
Here all the waggons were burned, all the 
Emperor's papers, and two complete trains of 
bridges. The news from Marshals Victor and 
Oudinot was disheartening. Wittgenstein from 
the north, and Tschitschagow from the south were 
bound to meet at the river Beresina, and bring 
the army to a last and decisive stand. On Novem- 
ber 22nd, Napoleon heard that his brave Polish 
General Dombrowski, one of his comrades in 
Egypt, had been beaten by the Russians under 
Ojarowski at Borissow, and the French had lost 
their own bridge over the Beresina. 

The Emperor held a consultation with his best 
generals of the engineers. These were Lariboisiere, 
Chasseloup, Ebl6, Haxo, and the Swiss General 
Jomini, who was considered a great tactician. It 
was impossible to cross below Borissow. They 
would have to go further north, nearer to the 
source of the river, and try to cross there. It 
seemed impossible to all of them to throw a bridge 
across a river like the Beresina in face of the enemy. 
Then a fortunate accident occured in the middle 
of their mishaps. General Corbineau, a brother 
of the one who fell by the side of the Emperor 
at Eylau, came from the west, from the right 


bank of the river. He had cut through 
Wittgenstein's lines with 700 horse, and 
reached the bank of the river just at the 
moment when a Russian peasant, who knew 
the locality, was wading across it. This led 
to the discovery of the ford at Studjanka, and 
all agreed that this was the one way of escaping 
capture or destruction. 

Tschitschakoff was deceived for a long time 
by their manoeuvres, and waited for the crossing 
below Borissow, and left the ford at Studjanka 
unguarded. It is quite inexplicable how the 
Russians, who knew the critical nature of the 
passage, and were so numerous in the district, 
did not manage better. Meantime, General Eble 
and his men set to work to throw two bridges over 
the river. When Napoleon had the bridge trains 
burned, he had the foresight to save a few waggons, 
the tools, metal- work, and coal. With the help of 
Chasseloup he and his clever bridge-builders saved 
the remains of the army and the Emperor. His 
work has rightly become as famous as any deed 
of war. The river was eight feet deep in places, 
and the strong current was filled with lumps of 
ice. He had to use balconies, wooden houses, and 
anything that could float, and throughout the 
whole of the work the officers and men were in 
the water. 

While they were building it, the artillery 
bridge went to pieces three times, and the aged 
General Eble had to go in the water himself. He 
was praised by all as a model officer, a man of 


fine appearance, as well as fine character. They 
said in the army that he and Larrey, the Emperor's 
physician, could ask the impossible of the men, 
and it would be done. It was one of the most 
difficult tasks ever attempted to make bridges in 
such desperate circumstances, at such a speed, 
for a half -lost army such as the French then was. 
However, the troops passed over in good order, 
as soon as the bridges were ready. On the 
western bank they came up with Victor and 
Oudinot's advanced posts. The young soldiers 
shuddered as they gazed on the worn and dispirited 
relics of the grand army. If the stragglers had 
tried they also could have crossed during the 
night of the 26th and 27th. But the demoralisa- 
tion was so great that they camped round the 
baggage on the eastern bank, and in a few houses 
they found there. 

When the enemy saw the crossing, and 
gathered round from all sides, there was frightful 
confusion and pressure at the bridges, and a 
number of men came to a pitiful end. The bridges 
were to be burned on the morning of November 
29th, to prevent the Russians from following. 
Eble and Victor took the greatest possible pains 
to induce the half-mad stragglers to leave the 
eastern shore, but they would not. At half-past 
nine, the Russians coming on at a great pace, 
General Eble himself fired his bridges. The poor 
wretches now saw for the first time that the 
position was serious, but it was too late. The 
Cossacks were upon them. They killed a good 



many, and drove the rest in scattered flocks into 
icy Russia, where they died a fearful death. The 
fight went on on both sides of the river during the 
passage, and the remains of the French artillery 
gave their last reply to the overwhelming strength 
of the Russian guns. It was as in Tschaikowski's 
symphony, when the last notes of the Marseillaise 
die away, and there is only the pitiless thrust, 
thrust, thrust of the sabre, till at last the bells of 
Russia ring out clearly over the bloody plains. 

In the fight on the eastern bank, which 
lasted throughout the crossing, Marshal Victor, 
the Duke of Belluno, performed a masterpiece of 
bravery and strategy, for which Napoleon requited 
him very badly, by blaming him for the destruction 
of the stragglers. Only one part of Victor's corps, 
which was under General Partouneaux's command, 
was lost during the fight and taken prisoner. It 
was the only body of French troops that was 
taken with arms in their hands throughout the 
whole campaign. 

On the morning of the 28th, Marshal Oudinot, 
who was always unlucky in this respect, was 
severely wounded, and had to be carried from the 
field. Ney took over his command, and he was 
joined in the retreat by Lefebvre-Desnouettes 
the aged Lefebvre, Duke of Dantzig, went through 
the whole campaign the generals of division, 
Maison and Legrand, and the cavalry-general 
Dumerc. Maison was a great help to Ney in the 
retreat. Legrand was one of the great infantry- 
generals of the good old times. He had been at 


Fleury and Hohenlinden and in all the later battles. 
He had been made a count after Tilsit. Napoleon 
married him to a young daughter of General 
Scherer ; she appreciated her elderly hero, and 
fired him on to fresh deeds. On the Beresina it 
was Legrand that first reached the opposite bank. 
He was seriously wounded there, and his soldiers 
carried him for a long time on the retreat, but 
he died on the way. He was another of Napoleon's 
closest comrades. 

There were many other good names on the 
list of dead and wounded officers on the Beresina 
Dombrowski, Fournier, Gerard, Claparede, and the 
Pole Zayonchek, who lost a leg. After the battle 
the army made its way in the direction of Smorgoni. 
They knew that Maret, Duke of Bassano, had 
collected great stores at Wilna, and that the 
Bavarian General Wrede was not far off, and was 
ready to come to their assistance, as well as other 
generals with reserve troops. 

On December 3rd no less than fourteen 
messengers came in from Paris. They had been 
riding hither and thither in search of the Emperor. 
For twenty-one days Europe had heard nothing 
of the grand army. The Emperor then drew up 
the 29th bulletin, dated December 3rd, 1812. He 
made no effort to conceal the whole miserable 
condition of the army and all the horrors of the 
retreat ; and he concluded, curiously enough, 
with an assurance that ' the Emperor was never 
in better health.' Had he some consciousness 
himself that he had not been well on the campaign ? 


Had he heard from Fouche" that people hinted 
that in Paris ? Did he think it would be more 
inspiring if people heard that he himself was 
unaffected, and was prepared to avenge his defeat ? 
Whichever it was, his calculation was wrong. 
The 29th bulletin, and particularly its closing 
words, did him a great deal of harm in the eyes 
of the people. 

General Heudelet came from the direction of 
the Niemen with 10,000 men, and General Loison 
brought the same amount from Wilna. But it 
seemed as if these apparently vigorous soldiers 
only came to perish in the frost and privations 
with the demoralised troops they met. At 
Smorgoni the Emperor secretly left the army on 
December 5th, and travelled westwards. He 
took with him Caulaincourt, Duroc, Mouton, 
and Lefebvre - Desnouettes. They drove the 
shortest possible way in simple peasant carts 
over the ice and snow. On the way he 
met Maret, and with him inspected the large 
and ample stores at Wilna. There were provisions 
of all kinds there for 100,000 men for forty days. 
From that point the little troop passed through 
Warschau to Dresden, which they reached on the 
15th, then through Leipsic and Mayence, and on 
December 19th, during the night, he was back in 
the Tuileries and held the little King of Rome in 
his arms. The secret journey right across Europe 
had been quite successful. 

That the army, or what remained of it, was 
bitter about the Emperor for leaving them in 


their sufferings will be readily understood. It is 
always some consolation the only one when the 
man who is responsible for the mishap remains on 
the wreck to the end like a good comrade ; one 
will forgive him much for the sake of his faith- 
fulness. But Napoleon was not a good comrade. 
Neither in Egypt nor Russia did he think of any- 
thing but himself and his own power. He said 
himself, when he left Smorgoni : ' I am stronger 
when I speak from my throne in the Tuileries 
than at the head of an army that is perishing 
with the cold.' 

This sort of reasoning was enough for 
him. He was by no means indifferent about his 
men. Few generals before him had done so much 
for their soldiers in the field and at home in the 
way of comfort and rewards. But to him an 
army was merely a power that he could use. When 
a thing was lost and destroyed he let it lie ; it 
was of no further use. No one knows what that 
cost him, but he could not act otherwise. 

When he left Smorgoni, he reckoned on the 
stores at Wilna, and they were certainly there. 
Marshal Macdonald was in the north with fresh 
troops, and in the south were his Austrian allies 
under Schwartzenberg. He wanted to concentrate 
these and other reinforcements that were on the 
way, at Wilna, and the Niemen was to be the line 
of defence against the enemy advancing from the 
east. Those were the ideas he imparted to 
Berthier. It is not impossible that this would 
have been enough for him, great leader as he was, 


to convert the defeat into a victory. He had 
been in difficulties before, and had never lost 
belief in himself. 

But now the greatest danger of the whole 
campaign set in, the intense frost. The night 
after his departure from Smorgoni the temperature 
fell to sixty degrees below zero, and thousands of 
the men died every day. Even the fresh troops 
at Wilna suffered, because the Duke of Bassano 
caused them to march on Smorgoni, to meet the 
Emperor and assist the army. The sudden and 
fearful cold wrought terrible havoc amongst the 
young men, many of whom were Italians. The 
generals who led them were Heudelet, and the 
one-armed Loison, Colonel Coutard, a relative of 
Davoust, and Franchesi, an Italian. In the course 
of five or six days 10,000 men of their brigades 
were frozen to death. 

According to the Emperor's orders, Murat 
was to have the supreme command, because he 
was a king. But, brave as he was in battle, he 
had now lost all spirit. Berthier was sick and 
apathetic. Davoust was sombre and silent ; he 
never spoke a word except when he was command- 
ing. He was, perhaps, the one that suffered most 
at the sight of the general demoralisation, the 
lapse of discipline, the distrust of the Emperor, 
and the lack of co-operation amongst the generals, 
and when he looked at the scattered band that 
remained out of his model division. It was Ney, 
the incomparable Ney, that took everything on 
his shoulders. It is not easy to understand how 


this general came so early to be known as the 
bravest of the brave. They were all brave. 
There could only be men who knew no fear 
about a leader like Napoleon. However, as 
some of them had a special reputation for 
bravery, like Ney and Murat, there must have 
been something in it. There must have been 
something more than ordinary coolness and 
contempt of death, something that fired the 
courage of others, and spurred them on to follow 
their brave leaders to death. 

No man could have gone with a greater 
contempt of death, year in, year out, from battle 
to battle, than Joachim Murat, and no one pos- 
sessed in a higher degree the gift of communicating 
his own courage to others. When he swung 
himself into the saddle and he was a handsome 
man, in a fine suit of amarinth velvet, with 
enormously long white ostrich feathers, and arms 
and harness glittering with gold and precious 
stones the devil was let loose in his squadrons ; 
man and beast dashed after him, and there was 
nothing that could stop them. Yet it was found 
that there was a limit to this kind of courage. 
King Joachim collapsed when the supply of horses 
was exhausted, and there were no more cavalrymen 
to lead with jingling harness and flapping cloaks. 
Certainly, he was just as fearless as ever ; cowar- 
dice was impossible for him ; but his courage had 
lost its glamour, when he could no longer command, 
but had to save an army that was shrunken out 
of all proportion. His sense of duty and manly 


courage sank behind other sensations. He must 
have thought of his beautiful Naples and his 
royal crown, which he must have been constantly 
feeling to see if it was quite secure. It seemed 
to him to be getting loose, and he lost his courage 
and his delight in chasing the Cossacks every 

Ney showed that he possessed the tenacious 
courage of the infantryman. Amongst the foot 
there are no fine horses or dashing attacks, but 
there is an unflinching courage in sustaining the 
daily struggle, a determination to keep on one's 
feet, and press onward to the appointed goal, or 
to retreat with order. Lannes had been of much 
the same character ; but the Duke of Moiitebello 
was much more gifted in every respect than the 
poor Prince of Moskwa, who had nothing but 
his courage. 

At Wilna things went much as they had done 
at Smolensk. The famished soldiers flung them- 
selves on the stores, plundered and fought for 
food and drink in the most frightful disorder. 
There was now not a single corps with troops 
that had been under the colours. When Marshal 
Victor, whose corps was supposed to form the 
advanced guard, reached the gates of Wilna, he 
had not a single soldier with him. Of the newly- 
arrived division of Loison there were hardly 
3,000 men left, and there were about the same 
number of the old Guard. On December 9th, 
Kutusow's first divisions came up with the French 
while they were plundering Wilna. Ney and the 


aged Duke of Dantzig ran through the town, and 
gathered men for the defence. Murat made no 
attempt to defend the town ; he fled by night 
to Kowno. 

The Bavarian General Wrede begged Marshal 
Ney to cut his way out of the town with the 60 
horsemen that were still at his disposal. Ney 
pointed to the swarms of fugitives that filled the 
streets, and said they must be protected and got 
away during the night. He swore that all the 
Cossacks in the world would not drive him and 
his fifty grenadiers out, before eight o'clock the 
next morning, from the house which they had 
fortified, and from which they commanded the 
gate and kept off the Russians. Thousands of 
wounded men were left lying in the streets of 
Wilna, to be dispatched by the Cossacks. There 
were also crowds of stragglers who desperately 
preferred to remain in the houses rather than 
venture into a temperature of sixty degrees below 
freezing point. 

A mile from Wilna the whole miserable 
procession was held up by an insignificant hill. 
The road was hard and slippery ; men and horses 
slipped and fell, and guns and waggons rolled 
backward. At this point a number of Russian 
flags and trophies and a war-chest containing 
10,000,000 francs in gold were lost. The marshal 
began to distribute the money amongst the Guard 
and every soldier that reached Paris handed it 
back to the treasury but as the Cossacks came 
on every vestige of order was lost and there was 


a general pillage, which was completed by the 
Cossacks when they had driven the French away. 

On December 12th the fugitives poured into 
Kowno, where the same scenes were witnessed as 
at Smolensk and Wilna, only worse and wilder. 
The soldiers fell on the food like wild animals, 
and men drank themselves to death with brandy. 
Murat held a council of war, and all but Ney and 
Davoust (who said nothing) vented their anger 
against the Emperor. Ney offered to defend 
Kowno until the fugitives had time to cross the 
Niemen and reach Konigsberg or Macdonald's 
winter quarters, which were not far off. Positions 
were marked out for the various corps, and then 
all the generals made for Konigsberg and left 
Ney behind. 

There was now not even a shadow left of 
the grand army. Ney had only a couple of 
adjutants with him when he arrived at Kowno. 
He found 400 men under General Marchand and 
300 Germans. The Russians were close behind 
him, and endeavoured to force an entrance by 
the gate on the Wilna road. Ney hurried up to 
it, but the three or four guns he found were spiked, 
and the artillerymen had fled. Even the Germans 
ran away, and the officer who led them shot 
himself in despair. But Ney would not yield. 
He was determined to defend Kowno until the 
following day. He took a rifle himself and shot 
away like a grenadier ; a number of high officers 
did the same. General Gerard, who bore himself 
with honour at Ney's side during these last spasms 


of the march, had gathered thirty men, and with 
these they defended the Wilna gate, and kept off 
the whole Russian army. The adjutant Rumigni 
had succeeded in collecting another small band 
of men of the 29th regiment, and when he came 
on with them the Marshal felt that Kowno was 
saved. He embraced the officer in his joy. 
Marchand was sent with all speed to the one 
bridge across the Niemen on which their hopes 
rested, and which had been attacked by the 
enemy ; Ney fought the whole day and kept his 
position till nightfall. During the night they 
escaped from Kowno and reached the river, where 
Marchand had retaken the bridge. It was quite 
intact, and so they crossed the Niemen and got 
safely out of Russia. They were 500 men in all. 

The Cossacks did not leave them as yet. At 
one point, where the road mounted a little, they 
came to a standstill once more, and lost all that 
they had kept together. The Cossacks scattered 
the four or five hundred men in the darkness, and 
Ney and Gerard found only a few officers with 
them. General Marchand escaped by a different 
route. In the end they reached Konigsberg. 
From this point there was no part of the army 
under arms. They continued the retreat in small 
bands, flying over the plains of Poland, and were 
pursued for some miles beyond the Niemen by 
the Cossacks. Then the Russian cavalry turned 
back, and the Tsar's army, which had lost two- 
thirds of its strength, came to a halt at last. 


The old Guard, which had been least hardly 
used partly at the cost of the other troops 
during the whole campaign, and which had 
originally been 7,000 strong, was represented only 
by 500 men at Konigsberg. This was the sole 
armed remnant. The young Guard had been 
completely broken, and all the other corps had 
disappeared. There were at Konigsberg 10,000 
sick and wounded, and an epidemic broke out 
amongst them, which the physicians of the time 
called ' frost fever.' The leading physician him- 
self, the heroic Larrey, caught it and died ; so 
did Generals Lariboisiere and Eble. Of their 100 
picked bridge-builders there were not more than 
twelve left after the fights on the Beresina. 

In all, 300,000 soldiers perished during 
Napoleon's campaign in Russia, besides a number of 
women and civilians that has never been deter- 
mined. The generals gathered at Konigsberg with- 
out troops. There was general indignation against 
the Emperor, but most of them were for a long 
time half stupified with their misfortunes and 

It was at this period that the foreign auxi- 
liaries began to fall off, and they continued to do 
so in the new year. Officers and men had indeed 
taken a kind of oath to Napoleon and the French 
colours, and it was a pitiful spectacle for the 
German troops in 1813 to pass over to their own 
countrymen in the middle of the fight, and begin 
to fire on the ranks they had just left. Yet 
according to our ideas of nationality, they were 
bound to resent the unnatural pressure, to join 


with their compatriots and shake off the unbear- 
able yoke that Napoleon had so long laid on 
Europe. A secret armistice had been concluded 
between the Russian General Diebitsch and the 
Prussian General York, whose men formed the 
main body of Macdonald's corps. On December 
31st, General York marched away with his 
regiments, and Marshal Macdonald was no longer 
able to keep the Russians in check. He had to 
retreat with the 7,000 Poles under Grandjean 
that were left in his corps. It gradually became 
impossible to hold the Niemen as a line of defence, 
and soon afterwards the Weichsel also had to 
be abandoned. Konigsberg was evacuated ; it 
was Ney again who had to cover the retreat with 
the remains of Heudelet and Loison's divisions. 
All of them suffered from the cold, and provisions 
had to be bought at a high price or taken by 
force. The next place of refuge was Dantzig, 
where General Rapp was governor. He shut 
himself up in the town, and prepared to defend 
it. Napoleon had destined this position for Rapp 
long before. During one of the battles in Russia 
the Emperor had given the general an order to 
attack, but suddenly changed his mind and sent 
another cavalry-general. They heard him mutter 
at the time : ' I need Rapp at Dantzig.' 

Murat's headquarters were first at Thorn, 
and then in Poland. On January 16th, 1813, he 
could endure it no longer. He abandoned the 
army and the posts that the Emperor had entrusted 
to him, and fled to Naples. The chief command 
now fell to Eugene, the Viceroy of Italy, and he 


exercised it with his customary firmness. He 
had led his men throughout the campaign with 
coolness and bravery, and it was he who put a 
stop to the retreat. He remained for a month 
at Posen, restored order and discipline, let his men 
rest, and gave them time to gather under the 
colours once more. On February 21st he withdrew 
to Berlin, after burning the bridges at Krossen 
and Frankfort on the Oder. 

Prince Schwartzenberg had been making a 
fool of Napoleon the whole time and was in collusion 
with the Russians. He now openly seceded from 
the French. General Grenier had been in Italy 
in 1811, and had been directed by Napoleon at 
that time to keep an eye on Murat, whose weakness 
of character was well known to the Emperor. 
Now, in the early days of 1813, Grenier brought 
his corps to Berlin, and gave Augereau a reinforce- 
ment of 28,000 men. To these we must add 
25,000 men under Rapp at Dantzig, and the 
garrisons of a few fortresses on the Weichsel and 
at Warschau. These were the only fighting forces 
left to Napoleon in that part of Europe. 


There was a great difference in appearance 
between the army that marched singing into Italy 
half in their old Republican rags, half in 
Bonaparte's new uniforms and the model soldiers, 
equipped down to the smallest detail, that were 
called out to face the army of Frederick the Great 
in 1806. There was a difference again between 
the latter and the grande arme'e that had marched 
into Russia. This was certainly the finest army 
that has ever been seen. Its whole equipment 
and material was new and modern, and the 
number of foreign troops helped to give it the 
appearance of a comprehensive power, as it defiled 
over the plains of Poland. Its march was like 
a colossal parade. 

It has been regarded as a proof of Napoleon's 
infatuated ambition that he made such imperfect 
preparation for this campaign, and had so little 
knowledge of the geography and climatic con- 
ditions of the country. But it was rather the 
great blunder of his life that led him to do this ; 
namely, the notion that there was a place for him 


and his family amongst the legitimate princes of 
Europe. After what he had experienced and 
attained he saw no impossibility in that. He 
knew that there was no such thing as memory in 
the false intercourse of courts. His army must 
be so powerful and his attack so decisive that the 
Tsar must be compelled out of fear to reach out 
his hand. But it is possible that Napoleon and 
his officers did not on this occasion devote the 
same care to minute details that they had done at 
the commencement of other campaigns. 

All the high officers went more or less reluc- 
tantly. The soldiers were too confident in the 
invincibility of their idol. Hence they had not 
heeded all the warnings and suggestions before 
beginning the Russian war. The rough ways 
had not been smoothed by spies and bribes. The 
Emperor himself and his whole machinery were 
a little worn. There was not the absolute relia- 
bility in small details of the earlier wars. At 
Austerlitz in 1805, he had said of General Ordener, 
the officer who arrested the Duke of Enghien : 
* Ordener is worn out. We need only a short 
time for the war. I myself can only go on for 
five or six years more, and then I must cease.' 
It was just seven years afterwards that he was 
ill and fatigued at Borodino. 

Thus the Russian campaign differed from all 
the others in many points besides its failure. From 
the first march one missed the wonderful order 
and precision that had been inseparable from him 
ever since the morning in 1796 when all the corps 


of the republican army marched together in 
perfect unison beside the sun-lit Bormida. In 
1812 orders were misunderstood from the outset. 
Distances were miscalculated and time wasted ; 
and when there was a victory as there still was 
sometimes there were no men to follow up the 
advantage as in the old days. The whole 
plan of the campaign was political rather than 
strategical. The Emperor thought less of beating 
the Russians than of winning the Tsar. Hence 
there was something of a parade in the great 
gathering of princes at Dresden, the distribution 
of the enormous fighting forces, and the advance 
on the Niemen. It was all done with unusual 
slowness, and before the eyes of Russia, in order 
to give the Tsar time to reach out a friendly 

Napoleon did not understand what any one 
of us who have come into the world a hundred 
years afterwards could have told him. He 
imagined that the descendants of the Corsican 
bandit could meet and exchange kisses with the 
Hapsburgs, the Hohenzollerns, and the Romanows, 
and that the telegraph would spread it over 
Europe. Assuredly, he came very near it. In 
1806, when he was returning from Tilsit to Paris, 
he was met at Marienwerder by an adjutant of 
the King of Saxony with a letter of this tenour : 
' The Emperor Francis seeks my daughter Augusta. 
What shall I do ?' Napoleon went to Dresden, 
and prevented the match. ' And I was utterly 
wrong,' he said afterwards at St. Helena. * I was 


afraid that a connection with the Emperor Francis 
would alienate the King of Saxony from me, 
whereas Augusta would have won the Emperor 
for me and then I would not be here ! ' 

He had come so close to them that they 
asked his advice on such intimate points. A few 
years afterwards the Emperor Francis gave him 
his daughter in marriage, yet Napoleon did not 
understand until all was lost what a gulf there 
was between him and them. It is almost painful 
to find Napoleon complaining to Prince Metternich 
on August 25th, 1805, that the Emperor and the 
new Empress of Austria never ask the French 
ambassador at Vienna about Napoleon's health 
and such things. ' They know very well,' he said, 
' that I myself do not ask you such questions to 
learn what I already know. No, it is done for 
the world to know that the relations between us 
are those of two sovereigns. Don't you see what 
a different footing I am on with the Emperor 
Alexander ? We send each other presents, not 
because they have any importance in themselves, 
but because they keep up our connexion. I should 
have sent your Empress a wedding present, but 
she has never even mentioned my name. There 
has not been the slightest notice taken of me on 
your side ! My ambassador is not treated with 
as much consideration as the envoys of Bavaria 
or Wiirtemberg, to say nothing of the Russian. 
These little matters are of great importance.' 

' I took the thing humorously,' Metternich 
writes, ' and answered : " Sire, I will at once see 


that some valuable objects in porcelain are sent 
from Vienna, if it will serve to strengthen the 
good relations between us." 

In the year 1813, before the Saxon campaign, 
Napoleon said : ' The war I am now entering 
upon is a political one. I would willingly have 
spared Russia all the trouble it has brought on 
itself. If I liked, I could have stirred up the 
mass of the people against the Tsar by proclaiming 
the emancipation of the serfs. But I avoided this 
weapon, as it would have brought misery to 
countless families and have caused endless mas- 
sacres.' And, finally, at St. Helena, the Emperor 
once said in conversation : ' People may explain 
it as they like, but I swear that I had no direct 
or personal hatred of any of the princes I fought 
against. For me the whole thing was a political 
struggle so free, so light, I might even say, so 
benevolent was my disposition. It is true that 
Louis XVIII and the other princes had outlawed 
me, and put a price on my head. In my opinion 
that was merely diplomatic rhetoric.' 

All this is very naive, but the fault is not 
that Napoleon over-estimated the importance for 
himself and his descendants of penetrating the 
royal circle. He was quite right. In those days 
and in ours the power is with the princes, the fate 
of the nations is in the hands of a few old families. 
When he thought he had any chance of penetrating 
this circle, he, having come through the fires of 
the Revolution, was more convinced of this than 
we who are so far removed from the great reckoning 


with kings, and who have so far been cooled by a 
century of reaction as to entertain once more the 
old foUy that it needs royal blood to lead States ; 
just as we thought when we were boys at school 
that there must be cat's blood in real licorice. 

After his return to Paris the Emperor resumed 
his normal life as the indefatigable head of the 
State. He maintained an icy calmness, to show 
that he was a man lifted above all the vicissitudes 
of fate. But he saw in every face the effect of 
the defeat and of the 29th bulletin, in which he 
had confessed the whole misery so openly. He 
still made no effort to mince matters with phrases 
or subterfuges ; but he threw himself with 
exaggerated zeal into the Malet affair. With 
great ostentation he had the Prefect of the Seine, 
Frochot, arrested, and an inquiry opened. He 
certainly did this in part to divert the attention 
of the Parisians from his unfortunate campaign, 
but also because he saw with concern and bitter- 
ness from the police-information how many of his 
faithful servants had been ready to take part in 
a revolution at the mere rumour of his death, and 
not one of them had thought of running to the 
assistance of the Empress and the heir to the 

Then he threw himself with unprecedented 
energy into the work of raising fresh levies. He 
filled up the attenuated regiments, and brought 
troops from all the camps in Europe. If he had 
not such a number of his best soldiers engaged in 
the Spanish Peninsula, he would have had 500,000 


at his disposal once more. Meantime he wanted 
fresh levies in the four last age-classes up to 1814 
a hundred thousand men altogether. It was all 
given willingly. Every man deemed it a point 
of honour to maintain the honour of France and 
its twenty years' supremacy in face of this first 
blow at their invincible leader. Yet there was 
something wanting. The nation was not called 
out in the name of liberty ; the Emperor would 
not venture to put the safety of France in the 
hands of the people. He was determined to be 
as before the Emperor and his army. 

It was different in Prussia and Germany. 
There it was the people's business to throw off 
the French yoke. Whatever concern the govern- 
ments had in regard to the people, they had to 
let the great beast loose for a time, intending to 
chain it up all the more securely when the danger 
was over. The whole suppressed youth of Ger- 
many broke out into songs of fatherland and 
freedom. While the old diplomatists lent their 
ears, and mixed their fine drinks, vast crowds of 
German youths rushed to the colours, ready to 
die for the freedom that bore in sight. That 
there would be more fighting, they all knew. That 
Napoleon could not leave his half-shattered empire 
exposed on the east was as clear as that the other 
princes were his enemies, and would be until he 
was destroyed. At the bottom, therefore, not 
much importance was attached to the amenities 
of diplomatists, or to what Metternich said to 
Napoleon. They knew that he knew more than 


all of them together. It must be war ; and war 
it was for three more years, and worse than 

His destiny fell from stage to stage after the 
Russian campaign as fatally as a vast waterfall, 
and with almost equal grandeur. All his enemies 
gathered like a storm in the east. Far away, in 
the extreme west General Moreau began to stir. 
He had lived in peace on his estate at Delaware 
since the great conspiracy of 1804. But as soon 
as he heard of the issue of the Russian campaign, 
he left America and came to Europe. All his 
ambitious dreams were revived. Napoleon Bona- 
parte was now ripe for the fall, and it was time 
for Moreau to take his place. After an interview 
with the other traitor, Bernadotte, at Goteborg, 
Moreau, the great general of the glorious republican 
wars, the victor of Hohenlinden, went over to the 
enemies of France in the moment of danger like 
a common deserter. He went to Prague, and was 
greeted by the Allies there with jubilation. They 
gave him a kind of supreme command, together 
with Prince Schwartzenberg, over the combined 
armies, when things were sufficiently advanced 
for Austria to throw off the mask altogether. 

Bernadotte also had allowed himself to be 
bought by the most shameless intrigues to take 
his place amongst the enemies of his country, in 
hostility to the man to whom he owed everything. 

After settling the regency on Marie Louise, 
which he did with a certain amount of relief, the 
Emperor left Paris on April 15th, 1813, at one in 


the morning, and took the road to Mayence. 
Never did he astonish the world and his enemies 
so much as then, when he deployed in the vicinity 
of Jena, where he had conquered six years before, 
the new fighting forces he had conjured up out 
of the earth. The Allies, who were well aware 
that there were between two and three hundred 
thousand of his old soldiers in Spain, had expected 
to see no more than the attenuated remains of 
the Russian disaster. They found themselves 
instead facing the old invincible name and the 
familiar solid columns of the best infantry in the 
world. Ney, Oudinot, Eugene, and the other 
survivors from Russia were now augmented by 
Marmont, Macdonald, Kellermann, and Bertrand. 
The cavalry was poor ; and on looking closely 
one would find a disquieting amount of raw 
recruits in the army. Yet it was precisely these 
who brought off the remarkable victory at Liitzen, 
with which the war of 1813 opened. 

On the day before the battle they met with 
a great misfortune. Marshal Bessieres was killed 
by a cannon-ball during a slight skirmish at rather 
long range. It was a painful blow to Napoleon 
and all his staff, and a great loss to the army, 
especially the cavalry, to which the marshal had 
always devoted special care, and which he had 
led with such distinction. The Duke of Istria was 
a brave and honourable soldier, but singular in 
being one of the very few in the army who con- 
tinued to appear with powdered wig, tail, and 
curls about his ears. 


The Emperor had made himself personally 
acquainted with the new troops before the great 
battle. He directed Marshals Ney, Oudinot, and 
Marmont, and the Viceroy Eugene to draw up 
in such a way that he could pass continuously 
along them. He rode slowly down the long lines, 
stopped here and there to say a friendly word, 
spoke to the officers or to some old non-commis- 
sioned officer that he knew, and all the while ran 
his eye over the young men in the characteristic 
way that made each one feel he had been indivi- 
dually noticed. They all, old and young, had 
time to see him, and he brought them all together 
in a common confidence of victory. He wanted 
to begin with a striking victory, that would daunt 
his enemies and open the way to Dresden. From 
there he proposed to carry the war into Schleswig 
and toward the frontier of Bohemia. 

The Emperor had left Liitzen with Ney's 
army-corps about nine o'clock in the morning of 
May 2nd, and he had just dismounted to look 
over some maps with the marshal, when they 
heard a strong cannonade in their rear, from the 
quarter where Ney's troops had spent the night. 
They could tell at once that it must be Macdonald 
who was engaged with the enemy. In a moment 
the Emperor entirely changed his dispositions, 
and sent adjutants to all the generals with an 
order to march straight across the country towards 
the thunder of Macdonald's guns. It took three 
hours to execute this manoeuvre, and so those who 
first reached the field fought for some hours 


against an overwhelming force. However, the 
artillery of the various corps gradually came into 
action, and when the divisions of Bonnet, Morand, 
Compans, and Bertrand appeared on the field, 
the battle was already won at all points. The 
Emperor was under fire the whole day long. 

General Mouton, Count of Lobau, led the 
16th battalion of the young Guard in a fearful 
struggle round the village of Kaja. When the 
young men were nearly overpowered by the heavy 
pressure, the old generals had only to say a word 
and they stood like walls. If they heard the 
Emperor's own voice above the din, they broke 
into the cry of ' Long live the Emperor, 5 and 
swept on with their bayonets like a storm. But 
it was a lamentable spectacle to see the fine young 
men on both sides, slim French youths, and pale 
German students with long hair, falling upon 
each other like wild beasts. When the sun went 
down there were 25,000 men lying on the field, 
and the plain was lit by the flames of four large 

It was with great satisfaction that Napoleon 
redacted the bulletin recording his incredible 
victory. He had beaten with infantry-divisions 
full of raw recruits, two combined armies of 
veteran soldiers, the Russians and Prussians, with 
25,000 of the best cavalry in Europe and an 
enormous artillery. No prisoners were made after 
the battle, as the French cavalry was still weak. 
But the moral effect of it was incalculable. The 
Emperor Napoleon was himself again. The 


confidence of his generals was restored. The 
disaster in Russia fell away like a nightmare from 
which they had at length awakened. The army, 
nay, the whole of France, returned to its firm 
belief in Napoleon's invincibility. 

The chief feeling amongst the Allies was one 
of disillusion, and their armies retreated on 
Dresden. At their head rode the Emperor of 
Russia and the King of Prussia just as before ; 
also Generals Barclay de Tolly, Wittgenstein, Milo- 
radowitsch, Bliicher, and Kleist, all with their 
tails between their legs just as before. Napoleon 
soon drove them out of Dresden, and rested there 
for a week. The aged King of Saxony was not 
at home. Under pressure from Austria he had 
gone to Prague, and he was now strongly influenced 
by the other German princes. But Napoleon 
invited him to return, and on the 12th of May 
Friedrich August was back in his capital. The 
Emperor rode out from Dresden to meet him, 
and received him with great ceremony amidst his 
brilliant Guard. The old friendship was renewed, 
and Saxony remained a faithful ally of his to 
the end Saxony and steadfast Denmark. The 
attitude of Austria became more and more 
ambiguous ; that is to say, all their circumlocution 
could not conceal the fact that Austria was 
prepared to join the Allies as soon as the moment 

During the eight days that he spent at 
Dresden the Emperor received from the King of 
Saxony some cavalry, which he badly needed. 


4 If it were a month later,' he said, * and I had more 
cavalry, it would be a splendid opportunity to 
close the whole affair with arms in our hands, 
and I would certainly not grant them an armistice. 
They do not know what they are in for.' He was 
alluding to Marshal Ney's march on Bautzen. 
At Bautzen and Wurschen again the French army 
won a brilliant and bloody victory over the Allies 
on May 20th and 21st. The next day it was on 
the march to Schleswig, driving the allied troops 
before it. The French pressed on along three 
routes. Marshal Victor and General Sebastian! 
were on the left wing ; Macdonald, Marmont, 
and Bertrand followed Wittgenstein along the 
road to Schweidnitz ; Marshal Ney advanced along 
the road to Breslau. 

The Emperor himself joined in the pursuit 
with the cavalry of the Guard, Latour-Maubourg's 
dragoons, and some infantry. He rode the whole 
day at the head of the Guard, and reached 
Weissenberg without meeting any resistance. 
General Miloradowitsch had taken up a position 
a little farther on, on the heights of Reichenbach, 
to protect the flying sovereigns. The French 
cavalry reduced, it is true, to a mere shadow of 
its former glory was still led by its old officers, 
Bruyeres, Lefebvre-Desnouettes, Colbert, and 
Latour-Maubourg, and after a hard fight the 
Russians were thrown into retreat. But in 
this comparatively unimportant battle, General 
Bruyeres, one of the Italian veterans, was killed. 
Napoleon himself was under fire, and one of the 


horsemen in his personal escort was killed so close 
to him that the man fell right at the feet of his 

* The luck is with us to-day, Duroc ! ' the 
Emperor cried to his Master of the Court. 

* They were riding through a crooked village- 
street to reach an elevation from which they 
would get a better view. The next moment a 
stray cannon-shot came along, struck a tree, 
killed General Kirchner, and tore open the body 
of Marshal Duroc, who was riding beside him. 
Marshal Mortier, who was quite close, was unin- 
jured. Meantime the Emperor had set his horse 
at a gallop to reach the hill, and had seen nothing. 
It was not till he reached it that he learned from 
one of Oudinot's adjutants that the Duke of 
Friaul had been killed. ' Impossible ! ' he ex- 
claimed. c I have only just been speaking to 
him.' As he was speaking Colonel Gourgaud came 
with a message from Ney, but Napoleon rode back 
and did not listen to him. He went with Mortier 
and Caulaincourt into the house in which they had 
placed Duroc. They exchanged a few words, 
and Napoleon sat for a long time by the side of 
the wounded man. He had been his most trusted 
friend from youth, and was an irreplaceable 
servant. The day before he fell Duroc had said 
to Marmont : ' The Emperor has an insatiable 
zeal for war. We shall all come to an end on 
the field. That is our fate.' 

The victory and the hot pursuit had broken 
the courage of the Allies, and they came with a 


civil request for an armistice. And although the 
proposal was brought to Napoleon by one of his 
worst enemies, the Austrian Count Stadion, he 
accepted the unfortunate armistice. By this 
means he lost all that he had gained. At that 
moment a moment that the younger Bonaparte 
would have seized as swiftly as lightning he 
should have forced them to yield an honourable 
peace. But he had once more sent the Duke of 
Vicenza secretly to the Tsar, and preferred to 
engage in a diplomatic struggle in which he was 
bound to lose. In the eyes of his opponents he 
was a noxious animal against whom any device 
could be used. 

First the armistice was properly executed, 
and then it was settled to hold a congress at 
Prague. In this way the whole of June was 
wasted without anything being done. Meantime 
the Allies were beseiging Stettin, which was defended 
by General Dufresne. The Crown-Prince of 
Sweden acted as if he were merely reviewing the 
besieging troops during the armistice ; but he 
deliberately rode as near as possible to the fortifi- 
cations so that his former soldiers, whom he still 
fancied to be attached to him, could see him. 
Suddenly a cannon-shot was fired from the fortress 
and the ball whizzed past Bernadotte's ears. 
The Allies at once raised a protest against this 
breach of the armistice. But the commander at 
Stettin answered : 6 A French deserter was said 
to be in sight, and the guard shot at him. That 
was all.' 


On June 27th Prince Metternich came as a 
sort of intermediary to Dresden, and had a heated 
altercation with the Emperor in the Marcolini 
palace. Austria's demands for a general peace 
were so unreasonable that the Emperor exclaimed : 
' How much is England giving you to spur Austria 
into war with me.' 

The Congress at Prague was conducted on 
the principle of saying a great deal and deciding 
nothing. The Allies made various arrangements 
with each other, but Napoleon's envoys could 
learn nothing of them. They were either kept at 
a distance or duped. King Murat returned, and 
offered his services. After abandoning the army 
and returning home, he had made a secret arrange- 
ment with Austria. He was so foolish, and knew 
so little of the real value of princely promises, 
that he imagined he could retain his crown after 
the fall of the man who alone had the art of 
making kings out of waiters. At the same time 
he ventured to offer his services to Napoleon ; 
and Napoleon accepted them, although he knew 
everything. But he had some feeling for his first 
cavalry-general, and he expected from Murat 
nothing more than stupidity and ingratitude. 

During the long diplomatic negotiations 
Napoleon again ruled the world from Dresden. A 
stream of generals and ambassadors poured about 
him once more ; but there were less kings than in 
1812. Under his control things went on their 
normal way. The regiments found quarters and 
provisions, the recruits were drilled, and all that 


the army needed was brought up from the depots. 
Horses alone were lacking. 

The small but brave Polish army under 
Poniatowski had now no fatherland except under 
the French colours which they had followed so 
long. Napoleon gave them the same pay and 
conditions as to his French soldiers. All the 
millions he had accumulated in the shape of spoil 
or war-indemnities during the good years, and 
which had lain well -guarded in the Marsan room 
at the Louvre, now served to lighten the burdens 
of the poor Saxons, whose country had become 
the theatre of war. Suddenly Metternich an- 
nounced to Caulaincourt and Narbonne that the 
Congress of Prague was dissolved. The prepara- 
tions of the Allies were completed, and Bliicher 
attacked the French in Schleswig two days before 
the termination of the armistice. One did not 
need to be too scrupulous with the hereditary 
enemy. The armistice was to run out on the 15th, 
but on the 12th Bliicher attacked Ney, Marmont, 
and Macdonald, who lay between Bober and 
Katzbach. Napoleon hurried up, and drove 
Bliicher back step by step. 

On the 22nd of August, however, a courier 
came from Marshal St. Cyr with the news that 
the enemy was near Dresden a little to the west 
of it, as if preparing to move between Leipzig and 
Dresden. It had been suggested that they should 
advance in the direction of Leipzig, but Generals 
Jomini and Moreau had pointed out how dangerous 


it was to have the Emperor in their rear. Sch- 
wartzenberg therefore advanced with all speed on 
Dresden, while Napoleon was occupied in driving 
Bliicher out of Schleswig. 

Prince Schwartzenberg had already collected 
200,000 men, but he wanted to wait for General 
Klenau. Moreau was quite nervous with their 
delays and precautions, and spoke rather sharply 
about making good use of their time. The Prince 
gave him a heated reply ; and Moreau, slipping 
off the mask of a courtier and becoming the old 
republican once more, flung his hat on the ground 
and exclaimed, ' Do you know what, sir, the 
devil knows that I am no longer astonished that 
you have done nothing but be beaten for the last 
seventeen years.' 

On hearing of the enemy's advance on 
Dresden, Napoleon wheeled round immediately 
with his Guard, and the corps of Mortier and Ney, 
and left Marshal Macdonald alone with Generals 
Lauriston and Souham to face Bliicher. He 
reached Stolpen with incredible speed, and worked 
out a great plan of carrying out a manoeuvre over 
the bridges at Lilienstein and Konigstein. But 
Marshal St. Cyr began to be anxious at Dresden. 
Napoleon had sent General Gourgaud to him to 
ask if he could not hold the city two days longer. 
The general came back at full speed on the evening 
of the 25th of August, and so much alarmed the 
Emperor that he gave up his plan and sent his 
troops by forced marches to Dresden. At the 
same time he sent General Vandamme with the 


engineer Haxo and a number of good officers into 
Bohemia, where, according to Napoleon's cal- 
culation, they should catch the Allied armies in 
flight and take them prisoners if he beat them. 
But it fell out quite otherwise with Vandamme 
and his army. 

On the morning of August 26th the Emperor 
himself rode into the Saxon capital, to the astonish- 
ment of all ; and it was quite time that he came. 
That very afternoon Schwartzenberg brought the 
whole of his fighting forces against the town, and 
his troops gradually advanced as far as the large 
garden, where they were received by a part of 
the Imperial Guard. Meantime Napoleon had 
collected his troops in the town, and suddenly 
the young Guard, with Marshals Mortier and Ney 
at their head, poured out of the gates like two 
roaring torrents, and swept back the Austrians, 
Russians and Prussians. It was a short but vigorous 
fight, and five generals of the Guard were wounded. 
The King of Naples drove back the enemy in 
the direction of Wilsdruff with the cavalry of the 
Guard and Latour-Manbourg's curassiers. The 
French re-occupied all their positions, and the 
Allies, who now knew that the Emperor himself 
was in Dresden, retired at all points. In the 
evening, after making his preparations for a 
great battle on the following day, Napoleon joined 
the King of Saxony at table, and was in what was 
for him a most brilliant mood. 

In the camp of the Allies the night was spent 
in mutual recrimination. There was a thick mist 


on the following day, August 27th. It had been 
raining all night, and continued to do so with 
great violence during the day. The flint-lock 
weapons of the infantry, with their open pans, 
were almost unusable. Thus the great battle was 
fought with artillery, and with sabre and bayonet. 
The cannons opened fire at seven in the morning, 
and thundered the whole day long. Murat and 
Marshal Victor threw themselves on the Austrian 
left wing on the Plauen estate. General Mitzko 
was taken prisoner with his cavalry-division. 
The centre of the Allies was gradually pierced, 
and on the right wing, where Napoleon opposed 
the Russians, Wittgenstein was forced to retreat 
after a stubborn resistance. On the heights of 
B-acknitz, where the Allied princes were with their 
generals, staffs, and body-guards, great masses of 
troops were concentrated, and these could only be 
reached by the artillery. The cannons of the 
Guard were directed to drive the enemy from 
this position, and the Emperor himself com- 
manded the advancing batteries. 

At that time the distances were so slight- 
even for the artillery that from the French 
batteries one could see the brilliant group around 
the Allied sovereigns, and all at once an unusual 
excitement was noticed amongst these horsemen. 
It was supposed that some important personage 
or at least a high officer, had been wounded or 
killed. And when in the evening a stray dog 
ran into the line of the French advanced posts, 
with the name * General Moreau ' round its neck, 


it was thought possible that it was he who had 
fallen. Such was really the case. Moreau was 
sitting on his horse, quite close to Alexander, when 
a ball from the French batteries struck him. It 
shattered his thigh, passed through his horse, and 
tore his other leg. Both had to be amputated, 
but he did not survive the operation. It is said 
that the aged hero smoked a cigar while the 
surgeons were busy on him. 

In the evening and during the night Schwart- 
zenberg retreated along the Teplitz road in the 
direction of Bohemia. All the other roads were 
closed. He left 30,000 dead, and 12,000 prisoners 
under the walls of Dresden. Napoleon had been 
twelve hours on horseback in the pouring rain 
when he rode back into Dresden. He entered it 
over the old bridge from Neustadt. The body- 
guard, wet through, rode before him at walking 
pace. Then came the Emperor himself, carelessly 
holding to the wet saddle, his military coat soaked 
through with rain, and his famous hat so saturated 
and softened that the wide brims, usually turned 
up, hung down to his shoulders. But the soldiers 
and the whole of Dresden were wild with joy. 
The Saxon court gave him a great ovation as he 
strode into the well-lit room after his bath and 
toilet. Friedrich August, who had been torn with 
anxiety the whole year, and could never be quite 
sure whether he had been betrayed or bought, 
began to think it was all right this time. 

But all this was of no avail. Too much time 
had been lost, and the resources of the Allied 


princes in men, horses, and material, were over- 
whelming. In the weeks following the battle of 
Dresden, Napoleon let his armies scatter under 
marshals and generals, and operate on their own 
account, far more than he had been accustomed 
to do. It is true that his vast plans embraced all 
their manoeuvres, but without taking account of 
possible failures ; or, to put it more correctly, 
without that gift of preventing failures or at least 
being independent of them that General Bonaparte 
had had in earlier years. 

His record from May to September is as follows: 
On May 2nd he won the great battle of Liitzen. 
On May 20th and 21st he again conquered at 
Bautzen and Wurschen. Then came the armistice 
and the Congress of Prague. On June 21st 
Marshal Jourdan and King Joseph lost the decisive 
battle of Vittoria, and with it Spain. On August 
21st Napoleon said : ' To-day the Duke of Reggio 
advances on Berlin.' In reality Oudinot was still 
far from Berlin, partly owing to floods, and partly 
to the pressure of Bernadotte, who at last beat 
him at Grossbeeren. On August 26th Macdonald 
lost the battle on the Katzbach against Bliicher. 
On August 26th and 27th the Emperor won the 
great battle of Dresden. On August 30th Van- 
damme was beaten by General Ostermann at 
Kulm in Bohemia, and was taken prisoner with 
7,000 men. Finally, on September 26th, Ney lost 
the battle of Dennewitz against the Crown-prince 
of Sweden. 


It will be readily understood that this record 
encouraged the Allies. The whole of Germany 
was heaving under them, and a rising of the entire 
German nation was very convenient for its 
generals and diplomatists ; while Napoleon's allies 
fell off one by one, voluntarily or involuntarily. 
Bavaria declared war ; Wiirtemberg followed suit ; 
the grand-duke of Baden joined them. The King 
of Saxony alone remained firm against all temp- 
tations and promises, and marched with Napoleon 
as far as the last town in his kingdom. The 
secession of Bavaria was particularly dangerous, as 
they had guarded the French frontier to the 
north of Mayence. 

The only thing for Napoleon to do now was 
to reach Leipzig before the Allies so that his 
connections with France might not be cut. He 
had, therefore, to leave Dresden, which he had 
begun to convert into a great armed centre from 
which he might hasten to the help of any of his 
army-corps with his invincible Guard. He left, 
however, two of his best generals, Marshal St. Cyr 
and General Mouton, Count of Lobau, in the city 
with 30,000 fine soldiers. He was never to see 
them again. 

He made these fateful dispositions because 
he was still deceiving himself with his great plan 
for routing the Allies. But they were now so 
astute that his plan very soon proved incapable of 
being carried out, and his 30,000 men at Dresden 
were swept away. He had all the more need of 
these troops since he had now to fight on the open 


plains of Leipzig with 155,000 men against an 
enemy that was 300,000 strong, and had twice the 
force of cavalry that he had. On October 15th 
the position of the two armies round Leipzig was 
such that a great battle was inevitable on the 
following day. The advanced posts approached 
each other within range of a flint-lock musket. 

On the following morning about nine o'clock, 
three cannon-shots were fired as a signal to the 
Allies, and at once three strong columns, supported 
by 200 cannons, advanced from the army-corps 
of Wittgenstein and General Kleist. On this first 
day of the battle the fight raged along the line of 
Markkleeberg, Wachau, and Liebertwolkwitz, far 
outside the range of the town at that time. The 
two latter villages were taken and re-taken several 
times in the course of the morning. Marshal 
Victor defended Wachau against General Kleist, 
and Lauriston defended Liebertwolkwitz against 
General Gortschakow. With them were Latour- 
Maubourg, Sebastiani, and Milhaud of the French 
cavalry. Meantime the Austrians under Klenau 
attempted to surround the French to the east of 
the town. It was known that an army, either 
that of Bliicher or of Bernadotte, was approaching 
from the north. 

The fight was so vigorous from the early 
morning onwards that by mid-day about 18,000 
men had already fallen on both sides. At this 
moment Napoleon was informed that the enemy 
was also surrounding his positions on the west 
side, General Margaron having been attacked by 


the Austrian General Gyulai. To the north of 
Leipzig Bliicher had already made his appearance. 
He had heard the guns. Marmont fought him all 
day long, with the support of Ney, who brought 
up the divisions of Souham and Dombrowski. 

After twelve o'clock the Emperor determined 
to go on from defending his positions to a strong 
attack on Schwartzenberg's centre. Mortier 
advanced with Lauriston, Victor, and Oudinot. 
Between them was Drouot's artillery of the Guard, 
and with them also were the cavalry of the Guard 
under Latour-Maubourg, Kellermann, and Nan- 
souty, and the divisions of Curial, Friant, and 
Gerard. There was no question now of sparing 
any bodies of troops. On the extreme left 
Macdonald began to force Klenau back, and the 
Prince of Wiirtemberg was equally unable to 
retain his position. But Rajewski's 10,000 grena- 
diers stood like walls before Drouot's guns, and 
let themselves be shot. Behind them Schwart- 
zenberg gathered large masses of reserves, and 
these he sent on and arrested the first attack. 

About four o'clock Napoleon decided to 
venture everything in order to convert the battle 
into a complete victory. He took the whole of 
the cavalry at his disposal, and flung them against 
the village of Wachau. Twelve thousand horse, 
with King Joachim at their head, flew to the 
attack. Murat scattered the enemy's cavalry and 
the ranks of the Russian grenadiers, drove back 
the whole corps of the Prince of Wurtemberg, and 
took 26 guns. But before there was any decisive 


victory, General Pajol, a veteran of the republican 
days, was blown up by a shell that exploded under 
his horse. Generals Maison and Latour-Maubourg 
were wounded and fell from their horses, and in 
the confusion that followed the Cossacks succeeded 
in recovering the 26 guns from Murat. Then 
large masses of troops came over from the right, 
where the Prince of Hesse-Homburg had tried to 
rout Poniatowski and Augereau. General Nostitz's 
Austrian curassiers forced back Kellermann and 
Lefort. Murat himself had to stop at the village 
of Giildengossa. He had re-taken the guns ; but 
Latour-Maubourg had lost a leg, and General Pajol 
was severely injured. 

The Tsar had agreed to let all the troops 
advance, including the Cossacks and hussars. But 
Napoleon, who now saw that even his great cavalry 
attack had not decided the battle, resolved to 
make a third attempt, and gave a fresh order for 
the concentration of his whole forces on Wachau. 
The Allies were receiving constant reinforcements 
from the right, led by General Meerfeldt. The 
Emperor sent the old Guard itself under General 
Curial against him, and the general and his men 
went to work with such energy that they took 
Meerfeldt and 2,000 men prisoners. The battle 
came to a standstill. Neither party could claim 
a victory, and the darkness was setting in. 

Prince Poniatowski had resisted the Austrians 
who wanted to force the passage over the Pleisse 
throughout the whole day, and Napoleon made 
him a Marshal of France. It was now evening, 


but the Emperor determined on one more attack 
on the unfortunate village of Giildengossa. Mortier 
and Maison advanced in their customary way. 
But Barclay de Tolly sent in the Russian Guard, 
and it was found impossible to dislodge the 
Russians from the village, though General Maison 
stood there in the dark and roared like a lion. 
He had received a number of wounds, and had had 
three horses shot under him. That morning he 
had said to his soldiers : * This is the last day for 
France. We shall all have closed our eyes by 
to-night.' And neither he nor his men had spared 
themselves. Hardly a thousand men were left 
of his division. But the brave general lived to 
see his prophecy falsified. General Count Maison 
was made a Marshal of France after the campaign 
in Morea in 1828. He was afterwards an ambas- 
sador under Louis Philippe, and lived until 1840. 

The fight at Wachau was the chief one of 
the day, and cost 50,000 men. There was also 
fighting to the west of the town, where General 
Margaron kept off Gyulai, and to the north, where 
Marmont had to sustain a heavy struggle with 
Bliicher. Marmont and Compans were under fire 
all day long. The marshal received several bullets 
in his uniform, a wound in the hand, and another 
in the shoulder. Unfortunately a shell fell in 
Compans' powder waggon, and in the confusion 
that followed the explosion the enemy succeeded 
in taking the battery and forcing Marmont to 
retreat. He had fought with 24,000 men against 
60,000 and killed 10,000 of them. 


That was the first day of the battle of Leipzig. 
On the next day, October 17th, there was no 
fighting. They had enough to do on both sides 
to restore order in their armies after the great 
battle and the long marches in the incessant rain. 
Napoleon rode, as usual, over the field. It was 
a ghastly sight. There was blank despair around 
him on every side. No one could fail to see now 
that it was all over with the Emperor and his 
power, or would be in a very short time. He 
spoke of a retreat by way of Lindenau in the 
direction of Liitzen, but he was unwilling to 
acknowledge that the battle had been lost, as in 
reality it had not. However, his army was 
surrounded in such a way that it couid hardly 
expect any reinforcements, while every fight 
weakened its strength. On the other hand the 
allies were so distributed that fresh reinforcements 
were constantly pouring in at their outer ring. 

It was hard for him to have to abandon all 
the gains of France in these parts and see the new 
frontiers he had given his empire collapse, while 
he still had good garrisons in Dresden, Torgau, 
Wittenberg, Magdeburg, Glogau, Kiistrin, Stettin, 
Dantzig, and Hamburg altogether 170,000 men. 
And they were expecting every day General 
Reynier with 30,000 men, though these were 
Saxons. The Emperor hesitated all day long, 
and made no serious preparations for retreat. He 
sent a marshal's staff to Poniatowski, and had the 
captured General Meerfeldt summoned to his tent. 
They talked together for some time, and the 


Emperor gave him back his sword and his liberty. 
Meerf eldt had been one of the Austrian negotiators 
before the peace of Campo Formio in 1797, when 
the young General Bonaparte had terrified Count 
Cobentzl by breaking his tea-service. He was 
now sent by Napoleon to treat with the Allies. 
He was to say that the Emperor was prepared, 
as he had been two months before, to make great 
sacrifices in the interest of peace ; but Napoleon 
was thinking only of an armistice to get him out 
of his present fix. He received no answer, of 
course, to his proposals. 

At last, when the evening was already far 
advanced, Napoleon began to make some prepara- 
tions for the retreat ; but it was to be an 
imposing retreat it was to look like a 
manoeuvre. The Allies had been quiet on the 
17th, partly for the purpose of resting and partly 
because they were expecting Generals Colloredo 
and Bennigsen from the east and Bernadotte from 
the north. The latter had to be urged on by 
Bliicher and by the English envoy, and was so 
careful and anxious that the Allies had doubts 
both as to his courage and his reliability. In the 
course of the day the Austrians came up under 
Colloredo and the Russians under Bennigsen ; and 
at last Bernadotte arrived. People could see the 
reinforcements from the towers of Leipzig, as they 
poured in continuously and completed Schwart- 
zenberg's lines. In the evening the whole horizon 
round the town was marked by an uninterrupted 
ring of camp fires. 


Count Rochechouart, a French emigrant in 
the service of Russia, rode with an order from 
the Emperor Alexander to Bernadotte, who was 
at Paunsdorf. He found the Crown-prince of 
Sweden sitting on a big white horse, dressed in a 
velvet mantle covered with violet and gold cords, 
a hat with white feathers, and above these again a 
high tuft of feathers in the Swedish colours. In 
his hand he had a marshal's staff covered with 
purple velvet with a golden crown at each end. 
At the end of the battle Bernadotte cried out : 
* A few more shells for these French ; I love 
them above everything.' It was in these days, 
while the Swedish Crown-prince was firing on the 
French troops at Leipzig, that there was a great 
outburst of indignation against him in France. The 
Moniteur contained addresses every day from the 
provinces and the large towns in some such terms 
as : ' Let us disown this ungrateful Frenchman, 
this traitor to his country,' etc. 

On October 18th Napoleon began at two in 
the morning to dispose his troops in a smaller 
circle round Leipzig. His plan was gradually and 
with steady fighting to withdraw his army on to 
the high road at Lindenau, and march westwards 
from there by the road at Liitzen. Colonel 
Montfort, of the engineers, turned to Berthier and 
asked for orders to throw several bridges over 
the smaller streams and watercourses round the 
town. But Berthier was obtuse as usual, and 
would not speak to the Emperor about such 


The struggle on the 18th centred chiefly 
about the village of Probstheida, to the south-east 
of the town, where Napoleon was with Marshal 
Victor's corps. But fighting went on all day also 
at Dolitz, where Marshals Poniatowski and Auge- 
reau resisted the Prince of Hesse-Homburg, who 
was wounded and replaced by General Bianchi. 
Marmont again was engaged with Bliicher and 
Bernadotte to the north of the town, as on the 
preceding day ; and finally, the Austrians were 
again endeavouring to rout Bertrand in the west, 
who was ordered to prepare the way for the 
march, and begin with the removal of the great 
transport-train and the heavier waggons. 

Round Probstheida the fight went on furiously 
all day long. At two there was a grand attack 
on the village, which the French had had to 
evacuate twice. The Emperor considered the 
position so important that he led a final attack in 
person and drove out the Prussians. Generals Vial 
and Rochambeau fell in this struggle. Vial was 
one of the great leaders. He received his command 
when Kleber was wounded at Alexandria, shortly 
after they landed in Egypt ; and it was Rocham- 
beau who conducted the expedition in Hayti after 
the death of Leclerc. In the course of the after- 
noon Schwartzenberg ordered a heavy artillery-fire 
in the hope of driving the French army into 
Leipzig and keeping them there. In this he 
succeeded. One position after another had to 
be evacuated, and the French were gradually 


driven back into the suburbs of the town. Mean- 
time Ney, Marmont, Souham, and Reynier (who 
had now come up with his Saxons), were fighting 
with equal energy to the north-east of the town, 
at Paunsdorf, against Bliicher and Bernadotte 
and the Russians, who were now advancing from 
the east. 

It was at this point that a division of the 
Saxon cavalry, which was sent against the 
Russians, turned round instead of attacking, and 
took up a position in the Russian line of battle. 
This was only the beginning of the desertions. 
The moment the enemy appeared at Paunsdorf 
the rest of the Saxon troops, with 40 guns and the 
Wiirtemberg cavalry under General Normann, 
went over to the Russians, and all their com- 
mander's efforts to stop them were of no avail. 
This commander was the Bavarian General von 
Zeschau. He remained with the French like a 
man of honour, with five or six hundred of his 
soldiers. It was not enough for these troops to 
desert in the progress of a battle. As soon as 
they got some distance away, they turned their 
guns, and fired into the midst of Durutte's division, 
which had been drawn up expressly to cover the 
Saxons and serve as their reserve. General 
Delmas, another of the old stock, fell under this 

There were 200 cannons in action as long as 
the light lasted. The French understood that 
now the work begun in Russia was to be con- 
summated, and they fought more heroically than 


ever. The Allies on their side had enough to 
avenge. Both Austrians and Russians had an 
account of many years' standing to settle. But 
the enthusiasm and fighting spirit were greatest of 
all amongst the Germans the youth of Germany 
that had arisen and flown to the great battle of 
the peoples, to win freedom for their fatherland, 
and shatter the tyrants for ever. 

The French army had to begin its retreat at 
once, as they had only powder and balls for two 
hours more, and the next arsenals were at Erfurt 
and Magdeburg. During the last five days the 
French had fired 250,000 rounds from their guns, 
an enormous figure for the guns of that period. 
All night long trains and waggons were passing 
over the Lindenau bridge ; they were followed 
by the cavalry, the Guard, and part of the infantry. 
The greatest obstacle to the march was found in 
the many watercourses, over which there were 
not enough bridges. 

With the first streaks of dawn there began a 
furious struggle in the streets of Leipzig, and it 
became fiercer and fiercer as the light grew. It 
was worst in the neighbourhood of the large bridge 
over the Elster, leading to the high road from 
Frankfort to Lindenau, which was about two 
miles long in its elevated part. If the Emperor 
had given the obvious order to fire the suburbs 
and defend the retreat step by step, destroying 
everything behind him, the whole army would 
have had plenty of time to get over the bridge ; 
but he would not ruin Leipzig, out of regard for 


the aged king. He bade a heartfelt farewell to 
his one true ally, the only prince for whom he 
had ever had a personal feeling. 

In their delight at the retreat, which they 
had hardly expected, the Allies rushed impetuously 
into the suburbs of Leipzig, but the gates were 
obstinately held by Marmont, Reynier, Ney, 
Poniatowski, and Lauriston. If they had kept 
their position for two hours more and there was 
every appearance that they could do so the 
whole army could have crossed the bridge at 
Lindenau and reached the road to Liitzen. But 
just then occurred one of those unfortunate 
episodes that could never have happened to the 
Emperor in his best days to say nothing of 
General Bonaparte but which abound in the 
Russian and Saxon campaigns. The Elster bridge 
was undermined and ready to be blown up. The 
Emperor had personally supervised the carrying 
out of this work, and he had left behind orders 
that the mine was not to be fired until the last 
moment, when the army was across and the enemy 
close at hand. He then rode across with his 

The crush now became frightful, and the 
situation was not easy to survey. There were 
still numbers of foreign troops amongst the French, 
in spite of the desertions of the previous day. Men 
in all sorts of uniforms were crossing the bridge in the 
greatest disorder and under different commands, 
and the noise of the guns and small arms came 
nearer and nearer. There ought to have been a 


general of engineers with his staff on the bridge, 
but in point of fact it was merely a high officer 
who had charge of the mines, and he seems to 
have lost his head. It is said that he thought of 
crossing the bridge to get more precise instructions 
from the Emperor. It turned out as he might 
have expected. Once he got into the torrent of 
men that swept over the bridge, no power in the 
world could have brought him back to his place 
at the mines. There was now only a non-com- 
missioned officer with the burning fuse in his 

No one will be surprised that the poor man, 
with no explicit order or indication of the right 
moment, fired the mine prematurely. The fearful 
noise it made, rising above the thunder of the 
guns and all other sounds, awakened Napoleon, who 
had dropped off to sleep while he was dictating 
orders for Macdonald. Murat and Augereau 
rushed to him and told him that the big bridge 
over the Elster had been blown up. It meant 
that 20,000 men were cut off from him and from 
France, and devoted to destruction. It was 
almost like the tragedy on the Beresina. Many 
of them preferred to die rather than surrender. 
They threw themselves into the river, but only a 
few good swimmers and the officers who rode 
sound horses got across. 

Marshal Poniatowski heard the explosion, like 
the others, and knew what it meant. He gave 
up the fight as useless, and flung himself in the 
river with a few other officers. But he was 


exhausted with wounds and with his exertions, 
and could not drive the animal up the opposite 
bank. It fell back into the river, and the prince 
was drowned. The brave Pole only carried for 
three days the marshal's staff he had so well 
deserved. General Dumoussier also was drowned. 
The tall powerful Scot, Macdonald, tore off his 
marshal's uniform and all his clothes, leaped into 
the water, and swam across the Elster. He 
crawled up the opposite bank, and raced across 
the field. He fortunately discovered a few soldiers 
of his own corps, and at once resumed command, 
stark naked at he was. He had to cover the 

Napoleon left the flower of the youth of 
France and the core of his old invincible army 
on the plains of Leipzig. Seventeen generals were 
taken prisoners, including General Lauriston. 
And Napoleon lost here also the confidence of his 
officers and the whole of his influence in Europe, 
yet he kept his saddle and fought from Leipzig 
to Erfurt against the force, four times as great as 
his own, that was pursuing him. The enemy never 
ceased to look on him as the dreadful soldier 
whom it was dangerous to approach. 

On October 22nd he reached Oppenheim, 
with French troops only about him ; not a man 
was left of his foreign auxiliaries. And now the 
unreliability of his own men began to be apparent. 
Murat, who had returned to his old brilliance in 
the three days at Leipzig, had a secret conversation 
during the night with the Austrian, Count de 


Meer, who had stolen into the camp. The Count 
promised Murat, in the name of Austria and 
England, that he should retain the crown of 
Naples if he abandoned Napoleon. Two days 
later Napoleon and Murat parted. There was 
only one serious obstacle to the march on Mayence. 
The Bavarian General Wrede, who had served so 
long under Napoleon, opposed the French in a 
strong position at Hanau, with such a strong 
force that the Emperor seemed to be lost. But 
the Guard bitterly attacked them, and opened 
out a way for the army. General Wrede was 
severely wounded. 

They reached Mayence at length on October 
31st. It was the last time that Napoleon halted 
in this town with his troops, as he had so often 
done on the march out or on the return to Paris. 
He remained there six days, reorganised his army 
as far as possible, and selected the troops that 
were to defend the Rhine and the frontiers of 
France as the Republic had determined them. 
Macdonald was to hold the river at Cologne, 
Marmont at Mayence, and Victor at Strassburg. 
The Duke of Valmy, the aged Marshal Kellermann, 
was sent to Metz to drill the recruits. The rest 
of the army was distributed within these limits. 

On November 9th, the Emperor was back at 
St. Cloud. It was a much worse return than 
that from Russia in the previous year, and now 
the time was shorter ; his enemies were not far 
away. He worked as he had never done before, 
and was on his feet night and day. But Paris was 


now the goal of the Allied princes. They carried 
on a pretence of negotiations in order to deceive 
Napoleon, but they had a complete understanding 
with each other. They would have nothing more 
to do with him. He was to be exterminated. 

Field-marshal Schwartzenberg was to advance 
from Switzerland, and General Bubna to follow 
him. Bliicher was to wait for their invasion, and 
then cross the Rhine at Mannheim. Bernadotte 
was to invade Holland. There was nothing left 
of Napoleon behind this line ; except that Rapp 
held Dantzig, and Davoust Hamburg. 

On November llth, Marshal St. Cyr capitu- 
lated with the 30,000 men that Napoleon had 
left at Dresden, on the condition that he should 
be free to draw off. He has been a good deal 
blamed for his capitulation. But Schwartzenberg, 
contrary to all law and precedent, refused to 
recognise it, and led the whole corps to Austria 
as prisoners of war. On November 21st Stettin 
had to surrender after an eight months' siege. 
On November 24th General Biilow entered Am- 
sterdam, and proclaimed the House of Orange. 
On December 2nd Utrecht fell. On the 4th the 
Swedes were in Liibeck. In the end everything 
had been taken back from France, and it had not 
a single ally amongst the Powers. Even faithful 
Denmark was forced to sign peace with Russia. 

Davoust alone stubbornly held Hamburg 
and kept the gates closed. 


All the experts on war are agreed that Napo- 
leon never showed himself a greater leader than 
in the struggles that he conducted between Paris 
and the eastern frontier in the three months of 
1814. That he continued to oppose his last 
troops to a hopelessly overwhelming force, despite 
all sound reason, is a proof of the inflexible self- 
confidence of this unique man. But that the 
others should cling to him after all that had 
happened, and spend their last energies as brave 
and honourable men, only shows that their whole 
life and thought were full of the man. There 
was scarcely one of them who did not understand 
that every day of fighting now was a loss to France 
and a criminal waste of human lives. But 
one man held them all in his hand, and they 
fought and fought, day after day, without hope, 
but so bravely, in pure devotion to their leader, 
that the Allies were often in serious trouble. 

On January 23rd the Emperor signed a docu- 
ment conveying the regency to the Empress. He 
entrusted the protection of the capital to his 


brother, King Joseph. Embracing Marie Louise 
and the little King of Rome for the last time, he 
went to his headquarters at Chalons-sur-Marne. 
Battles now followed each other in quick succes- 
sion. They were nearly always victories where 
the Emperor was, but there were also failures. 
Indeed, one was as little use as the other, because 
they all reduced the strength of his shrunken army. 

Meantime the Allies held a congress at Cha- 
tillon, and Napoleon's envoy, the Duke of Vicenza, 
did his best to secure tolerable terms. But Napo- 
leon had not learned prudence from misfortune ; 
after a victory he would put up his claims so high 
that they only laughed at him. When he did 
badly, he was for continuing the struggle. It 
was impossible for him to acknowledge defeat. 
There was a fight at Brienne on January 29th, at 
La Rothiere on February 2nd, and at Champaubert 
on the 10th. On February 17th Napoleon had 
instructed Marshal Victor to occupy the village of 
Montereau near Fontainebleau. But the Marshal 
did not carry out the order with his customary 
precision, and when he arrived there, on Feb- 
ruary 18th, the opportunity was gone, and the Wiir- 
tembergers were in occupation. 

Napoleon was beside himself. He took away 
the Marshal's command, and gave it to Girard, 
swearing that he would dismiss Victor from the 
army. The Marshal, who had lost his son-in-law 
in the battle, replied with tears in his eyes that 
he would not leave the army. He would rather 
take a musket and fight in the ranks. The 


Emperor's anger died away at once. He gave the 
Duke the command over a part of the Guard, and 
invited him to his table. General Gouyot, who 
had survived Vandamme's defeat at Kulm, was 
also scolded by the Emperor, because his men 
had lost two guns. Napoleon angrily flung his 
hat on the ground, and ordered General Exelmans 
to take over the command. A little later, however, 
when the fight over Montereau developed into a 
pitched battle, he gave General Gouyot the com- 
mand over the four squadrons that formed his 

It was at Montereau that Napoleon, in the 
thick of the fire, said to the gunners who begged 
him to go away : ' Be quiet. The ball is not 
made yet that will hit me.' In the end the Wiir- 
tembergers suffered a decisive defeat, as they 
deserved. General Chateau, Victor's son-in-law, 
was fatally wounded owing to an accident in the 
blowing up of a bridge, and General Pajol had 
another mishap ; he fell under his horse. 

On the same day, February 18th, Macdonald 
and Oudinot drove Generals Wrede and Wittgen- 
stein before them at such an extraordinary pace 
that the French marshals were able to sit at the 
tables prepared for their opponents. They found 
the hot dishes still smoking and the table decorated 
with laurel. This victory at Montereau inspirited 
Napoleon to such an extent that when Adjutant 
Rumigny came for the fourth time with dispatches 
from the Congress at Chatillon, he merely told 
him to take his compliments to the Bourbons. 


The Allied princes were in full retreat for a 
moment after the battle of Montereau, and Paris 
again received a gift of captured flags. But 
the net was drawn close once more. Bliicher, 
especially, dragged along the Austrians and Rus- 
sians, and inexorably sought his revenge for Jena 
and Auerstadt. The town of Soissons, an ex- 
tremely important point in the fight over the 
retreat, was shamelessly surrendered by a French 
general of the name of Moreau. Marshal Auge- 
reau, always worthless, now completely deserted 
Napoleon's interests, and kept his army corps 
hi idleness at Lyons. Even Napoleon's faithful 
friend Savary, Duke of Rovigo, lost courage. 
Talleyrand had his treacherous plans ready, and 
waited quietly for the inevitable end. 

On March 5th there was a vigorous fight at 
Craonne. Ney and Victor with the infantry, 
Grouchy and Nansouty with the cavalry, all more 
or less wounded, and General Belliard, who had 
succeeded Murat in the command of the cavalry, 
drove the enemy out of Craonne, with the help 
of Drouot's guns. But it was a sombre victory. 
Everybody about Napoleon knew that the end 
was near. Soldiers and statesmen alike looked 
to Chatillon, where, they all felt, the fate of France 
and their own fate were to be decided. 

Amongst the Allies, however, there was a 
feverish anxiety to reach Paris. The Emperor 
Francis, King Frederic William, and the Tsar 
Alexander, in whose capitals Napoleon had so 
often resided, wanted to enjoy their revenge. 


Many wanted to see once more the city in which 
they had spent a part of their gay youth at one 
of the finest courts in Europe. But the fortune 
of war swung to and fro. They were seized with 
a sudden panic when the dreadful man once came 
right upon them. The Tsar said that half his 
hair had turned white in one night. 

On March 20th, in the course of a battle at 
Arcis, the Emperor made his horse step over a 
shell that had just fallen. Exelmans wanted to 
warn him, but Sebastiani prevented him. 

' Don't you see that he is doing it on purpose,' 
he said. ' He wants to make an end of it.' But 
when the shower of soil and stones had settled 
down, the Emperor was sitting unhurt on his 

After a masterly retreat from Arcis, the 
Emperor did not think that the Allies would dare 
to slip past him toward Paris. This time, however, 
they plucked up courage, and marched after 
Marmont and Mortier, who were attacked by 
an overwhelming force at Fere-Champenoise. 
Generals Pacthod and Amey had a disproportion- 
ately large number of transport waggons in their 
divisions, which they were to protect. This long 
train of waggons led the Allied generals greatly 
to overrate the strength of the enemy, and, anxious 
as they always were, they resolved to attack in 
full strength. The whole of the combined cavalry 
was therefore sent into action, and so suddenly 
that the princes with their general staffs had not 
time to get out of the way. They had to put 


their horses to the gallop, and join in the onslaught 
or else be ridden down. In two minutes the 
Emperor Alexander and the King of Prussia were 
in the midst of the French columns, surrounded on 
all sides by the swarm of 16,000 horse Russians, 
Prussians and Austrians, dragoons, uhlans, hus- 
sars and Cossacks. 

' Never in my life,' says Count Roche- 
chouart, ' shall I see such a medley again. I was 
hardly able to tell what was going on, and in a 
moment it was all passed.' The small French 
army that was routed at Fere-Champenoise con- 
sisted mainly of young recruits, still wearing their 
blouses and peasant's dress. Generals Pacthod, 
Amey, Jamin, and Thevenot were taken prisoners. 

On March 28th, the Emperor learned at St. 
Didier that the Allies were before Paris. He 
mounted his horse and set off at full gallop. He 
still believed he could defend Paris ; |certainly 
he did not think for a moment of surrendering 
or losing courage. The remains of the French 
armies concentrated on Paris, the Allies following 
closely in their steps. They fought many a good 
battle, and kept the enemy off, and on March 29th, 
they found themselves under Montmartre and 
the outer walls. The last battle was round 
Paris, and Marshals Mortier and Marmont carried 
the desperate struggle to its conclusion on March 
29th and 30th. They had only 30,000 men, with the 
reinforcements they found at Paris. Neither 
King Joseph nor the Minister of War, Clarke, had 
done anything for the defence of the city, though 


they had had plenty of time and opportunity to 
do so. The Minister had even hesitated to dis- 
tribute 20,000 new weapons that were in the 
arsenal. He was preparing to desert. 

At twelve o'clock on March 29th one could see 
the foreign troops from the hill of Montmartre, 
and King Joseph sent orders to the marshals to 
surrender Paris. Marmont, who received the 
order, put it in his pocket. There had been a 
council at the Tuileries. The dignitaries of the 
Empire, the ministers, King Joseph, and the 
Empress Marie Louise, were all agreed that the 
Regent ought to leave Paris with the young heir 
to the throne. Talleyrand alone held to the last 
that the Empress ought to remain in the capital 
and continue the regency which the Emperor 
had settled on her with full powers. He had long 
made his own plans as to the Allies and the Bour- 
bons, and it would have been a triumph for him 
if he had been able to present at once to the 
Emperor Francis his daughter and the young 
prince. The others, however, had not provided 
for themselves so prudently, and they accompanied 
the Empress to Blois. 

Talleyrand went home and packed up. But 
he took so much time to do it that, when he at 
last reached the barrier in the evening in his car- 
riage, the guards prevented him from leaving the 
city. He was taken back to his palace under a 
sort of arrest. His rooms became the centre for 
all that was left of Paris. The Tsar took up his 
residence in the Hotel Talleyrand. The old spider 


sat in the middle of his fine, strong web, and held 
all its threads. 

Marmont had said nothing to Mortier about 
King Joseph's order, which he kept in his pocket, 
but he concluded an armistice, and Mortier joined 
him. After an heroic defence, the marshals 
withdrew to Fontainebleau, and left Paris open 
to the enemy. Compans, Arrighi, Ricard, Christi- 
ani, Curial and Lagrange were the last generals 
to lead divisions against the whole of armed 

The Emperor had sent on General Dejean to 
announce that he was coming to Paris. He had 
marched forty-five miles that day with the Guard, 
and arrived at Troyes. On the morning of March 
3rd he was again in the saddle, and by ten in the 
evening he was close to the city. He was changing 
horses on the road for the last time when General 
Belliard told him that Paris had capitulated, and 
he himself was engaged in removing the cavalry 
from the capital. 

The Emperor listened to him in silence. 

* Well,' he said at last, * we must get on to 

* But, sire, there are no troops in Paris.' 

* That doesn't matter. I shall find the 
National Guard. My army will concentrate to- 
morrow. Follow me with the whole of your 

* Your Majesty,' Belliard answered, ' will 
only succeed in being taken prisoner and witness- 
ing the looting of the city. It is surrounded by 


130,000 men. In order to get away from it, I 
have myself had to engage not to return to it.' 

* Six hours too late and everything lost ! ' 
cried the Emperor. He went inside, and sat in 
a small chair in the little post-house on the road, 
and at last fell into a deep sleep. 

During the advance of the Allies into Prance 
the Crown-Prince of Sweden had led the army 
corps in the extreme north. The princes had not 
much confidence in him, and preferred to keep 
him at a distance. He himself felt all along how 
weak his position was. While he was pushing 
westwards through the north of Germany, he 
annexed all the estates that had been given by 
Napoleon to his former comrades in arms. But 
he was still so unsafe, and so used to keeping 
every road open, that he continued to intrigue on 
all sides, and was ready to betray anybody or any- 
thing to retain his kingly dignity. When he had 
to invade Flanders, which was defended by his 
old comrade, General Maison, he gave a written 
promise to disarm the Prussians under him and 
go over to the French with his Swedish troops, 
if the Emperor Napoleon would give him a written 
guarantee of his royal dignity in Sweden or some 
other kingdom. Napoleon agreed, but on con- 
dition that King Joseph signed the declaration, 
and the negotiations fell through. However, 
Napoleon had taken Bernadotte's letter from 
General Maison, and he afterwards put it in the 
hands of the Emperor Alexander. That was the 
source of the ill-feeling against the Crown Prince 


and later King of Sweden, and the conspicuous 
coldness of the other European courts to the house 
of Bernadotte. Still, there were plenty of other 

Bernadotte also tried to enter into corre- 
spondence with Carnot, but the honourable soldier, 
then holding Antwerp, said to the intermediary : 
* I was a friend of the French General Bernadotte, 
but I am no friend of the foreign prince who 
bears arms against his country.' But the worst 
of all is, perhaps, the proclamation that the 
Crown Prince of Sweden sent over the French 
frontier, when the Allied armies were approaching. 
In this it is threatened, in the name of a French 
hero who had once fought for the honour of France, 
that the whole population will be sacrificed to 
the vengeance of the Cossacks if there is any 

On April 1st Napoleon was still thinking of 
marching on Paris. He rode from Fontainebleau 
to Essonne and inspected Marmont's corps, which 
was quartered there, and consisted of fine, effective 
troops. He spoke to Marmont for the last time. 

On April 2nd he mustered his own Guard in the 
large courtyard in front of the palace of Fontaine- 
bleau, as cool and quiet as ever. The Duke of 
Vicenza came with bad news from Paris, yet the 
Emperor continued to talk of fresh battles. In 
reality he now had, if he collected all the divisions 
that were faithful to him, the following troops : 
Soult and Suchet in Spain, General Grenier in 
Italy, and all the fortresses in FrTOQfi Micl Italy. 


These were forces enough for a frightful civil war, 
and it might have ended in putting him on the 
throne once more. He collected his Guard and 
made them swear that the enemy should be driven 
out of Paris. In the course of the night, in fact, 
they marched some distance toward the capital. 

April 3rd was the day of his fall. The troops 
at Yvonne, under Marshals Oudinot and Mac- 
donald, declared that in the circumstances they 
would refuse to advance on Paris. Macdonald 
offered to take the news to the Emperor, and 
rode to Fontainebleau. Meantime, the highest 
officers about Napoleon held a deliberation, and, 
with the Prince of Moskwa at their head, they 
went to the Emperor's room and asked him to 
abdicate. At the same time Marmont's unfor- 
tunate treachery was taking place at another spot. 

The following morning his dispirited officers 
once more assembled in Napoleon's room. There 
were Berthier, Caulaincourt, Moncey, Maret, Lefe- 
bvre and Ney. The Emperor tried several times 
to draw up a deed of abdication, and in the mean- 
time Marshal Macdonald came with his news. 
The Emperor then turned to the circle of officers, 
and asked them if they would support his son 
They all answered in the affirmative, Macdonald 
doing so with particular warmth. He selected 
Caulaincourt, Ney and Marmont to convey his 
abdication and treat for him with the Allied 
princes at Paris. But shortly afterwards he 
replaced Marmont with Macdonald, although at 
that time he could know nothing of Marmont's 


Napoleon's first abdication ran thus : ' As 
the Allied Powers have announced in their procla- 
mation that the Emperor Napoleon is the sole 
obstacle to the re-establishment of peace in Europe, 
the Emperor Napoleon true to the oath he has 
taken declares himself ready to give up the 
throne, France, and even life, for the good of his 
country, without any prejudice, however, to the 
rights of his son, the regency of the Empress, or 
the laws of the Empire.' 

The Duke of Vicenza and the two marshals 
were dispatched with this document. But at 
the last moment Napoleon said half-aside to Mac- 
donald : * Come, and let us attack them to- 
morrow. We shall beat them ! ' The marshal 
pretended not to hear him. 

Marmont was born in 1774, and died in 1852. 
He lived longest of all Napoleon's marshals. He 
had been with General Bonaparte from Toulon 
onwards. He had won distinction everywhere 
in Italy, Malta, Egypt, at the crossing of the Alps 
in 1799, at Marengo, and in Dalmatia, where he 
took Ragusa, from which he had his ducal title. 
He came to Wagram the day before the battle, 
and beat the Austrians on his own account at 
Znaim. He was then made marshal and governor 
of Illyria, and Napoleon honoured and rewarded 
him above all the others. If there could be any 
question at all of favourites with Napoleon, it 
would certainly be Junot and Marmont. But 
while Napoleon showed his favouring of Junot by 
always or at least for a long time being indul- 


gent to him, his relation to Marmont was very 
different. He appreciated the great military 
gifts of the young officer, and regarded them with 
gratification. Marmont matured under the Em- 
peror's own eyes and leadership more than any 
of the others. Hence we can understand that 
the Emperor had a certain tenderness for him. 

This did not prevent him from being just as 
hard and cold towards Marmont in the service 
as toward any of the others. After the battle of 
Montebello, Bonaparte sent his brother Joseph 
to offer Marmont the hand of Pauline. When 
the family began to rise, she was always offered 
when any man was to be honoured. But it seems 
that several declined her, and at all events Mar- 
mont did so. When Napoleon was at a safe dis- 
tance, he married a wealthy lady at Paris, Mile. 
Peregeaux. His wife was much attached to him 
at first, but she was foolish and perverse. The 
long separations, which were fatal to so many 
marriages at that time, led her to be unfaithful, 
and she eventually gave him a very unhappy time. 
When Marmont had to go to Portugal in 1810 
to relieve Massena, the Emperor said to him : 
' When the Spanish Peninsula is taken it will be 
divided into five kingdoms, each with a viceroy 
at its head. They will have courts and the honours 
of royalty. One of these kingdoms is for you, 
so go and take it.' When Napoleon was speaking 
in 1813 of the foreign officers who went over to 
the enemy in the field with their troops in the 
Saxon campaign, he drew a distinction between 


a conscientious man and a man of honour, and 
said, turning to Marmont : ' If, for instance, the 
enemy had taken France and were in possession 
of the heights of Montmartre, and you thought 
perhaps rightly that the good of the country 
demanded that you should abandon me, you 
might be a good Frenchman, and a brave and 
conscientious man, if you did it, but you would 
not be a man of honour.' 

Marshal Marmont, who relates this himself 
in his memoirs, adds quite coolly : ' I was destined 
to recall these words afterwards at Essonne.' 
He had been one of the best fighters in the Saxon 
campaign at Liitzen, Bautzen, Wurschen, Dres- 
den and Leipzig and at the very end he had 
defended Paris heroically with Mortier. Then he 
suddenly changed, and became one of the most 
ungrateful to Napoleon. While his corps was 
marching round the city from Montmartre to 
Essonne, which was on the way to Fontainebleau, 
Marmont rode to his palace in Paris. Covered 
with blood and dirt as he was after several days 
fighting, he would very well need a wash and the 
barber, and a little rest. But he was at once 
visited by envoys from Talleyrand, who was work- 
ing assiduously for the overthrow of Napoleon, 
and who would like to be able to offer the Allies 
a marshal like Marmont, commanding an army 
corps in the immediate vicinity of Paris. 

Talleyrand had chosen Bourienne, the former 
private secretary of Napoleon, and an intimate 
friend of Marmont' s, as his agent. Marmont 


refused all appeals, declaring that he would die 
by the side of his Emperor. In this mood he left 
Paris and rejoined his corps at Essonne. But on 
the following day, April 3rd, the secessionists sent 
messenger after messenger to him, and at last he 
began to move, and entered into negotiations 
with Prince Schwartzenberg's agents. It was 
agreed that his corps should march through the 
lines of the Allies. 

As Caulaincourt and the two marshals passed 
by Essonne on their way to Paris with Napoleon's 
abdication, Marmont confessed what he had done 
to his three old comrades, and seemed to be in 
great perplexity. He had brought his generals 
together early that morning (April 4th), and found 
them nearly all willing to join in his defection. 
But now that he met the Emperor's envoys he 
was ashamed, and asked that he might be allowed 
to accompany them to Paris ; he hid himself in 
the carriage. He left word to his officers to do 
nothing until they had explicit orders from him. 

Meantime, Napoleon, who had no suspicion of 
what was going on, sent a messenger to Essonne 
asking Marmont to come to Fontainebleau, as he 
wished to speak to him. Marmont' s generals 
took this as an indication that they had been 
betrayed. They became anxious, and, without 
waiting for further orders, they marched during 
the night through the lines of the Allies, which 
were opened to them as had been agreed. General 
Souham led them. He had never been a friend 
of Napoleon ; but the brave Compans and his 


splendid division were also in the march. Colonel 
Fabrier rode with all speed to Paris to inform 
Marmont, and he promised to come in an hour ; 
but before the hour was up another officer came 
from Essonne to say that all the rest of Marmont'a 
corps was on the march. The Poles alone re- 
mained faithful to the Emperor. They rode to 
Versailles under General Ordener, to join the regi- 
ments at Rambouillet that had not gone over to 
the enemy. But Marmont had now fallen so far 
into the power of the tempters that he galloped 
to Versailles and forced his men to leave General 
Ordener and the Emperor's party and go over to 
the Allies. 

Marmont's defection is not merely noteworthy 
for the ingratitude it evinces ; ingratitude is not 
so rare. But it shows how insecure the men 
felt themselves who accompanied Napoleon in 
his adventurous rise. As soon as the old society 
appeared, in the old forms and names and places, 
the life of the last twenty years melted away 
like a dream ; like children awakening from a 
dream, men grasped the familiar hand that 
was stretched out to them. 

Meantime, the three envoys were admitted 
to the King of Prussia, who was rude, and to the 
Tsar Alexander, who was charming and hollow. 
But while they were still dallying over the abdica- 
tion, a messenger came with the news of the 
defection of Marmont's whole corps. As the news 
was communicated in a loud whisper to the Tsar, 
who was rather deaf, he repeated : ' Totus 


corpus ! ' and all who were in the room knew that 
it was Marmont's corps. They must have spoken 
elegant Latin in Russian imperial circles. The 
intermediaries then received the abdication back 
again with the assurance that it could not be enter- 
tained unless it included Napoleon's family and 

For two days Napoleon fought against the 
determination. He kept to his room, and spoke 
alternately of retiring to Elba and of marching 
to destroy the Allies and free Paris. At last, on 
April 5th, he entirely renounced the throne of 
France and Italy for himself and his descendants. A 
treaty was drawn up by the Allies in this sense on 
the llth, and brought to Napoleon by Caulain- 
court, Schuvaloff and Macdonald. Napoleon 
would not sign it that day (the 12th). Those about 
Napoleon at Fontainebleau now began to realize 
what was passing. The soldiers would have 
remained faithful to their great leader if they 
had been left to themselves, but the officers began 
to look about for a means of saving themselves 
and their property in case the wreck sank ; and 
the more they had, the more anxious they became. 
Marshal Berthier, Prince of Wagram and of 
Neuchatel, loaded with riches, honours, glory, 
and distinctions of all sorts and all from the 
same hand came to the Emperor's room and 
asked permission for a short run to Paris. He 
obtained it, bowed, and departed. As the door 
closed behind him, the Emperor said quietly and 
coldly : * He will not come back.' He was 


quite right. Berthier went to Paris to submit, and 
to offer his services to the provisional government. 

On April 12th Napoleon's appearance was 
such that all those about him were greatly con- 
cerned. The official in charge of his cabinet, 
Turenne, unloaded the pistols in his bedroom. 
During the night Napoleon awakened his servant 
and told him to make a fire. He heard the Em- 
peror write letters and tear them up again. At 
last he took a small black pouch out of a secret 
cavity in his dressing-case, emptied it into a 
glass of water, and went to bed ! We do not 
know for certain whether he then took a strong 
poison that he had had in Russia in a signet, 
I believe ; at all events this and the pouch were 
empty the next morning. But he did not die ; 
either he was too strong, or the poison was too 
old. He awakened his Egyptian servant Ivan, 
who came and assisted him. Ivan then went 
into the stall, saddled a horse and rode off, and 
never came back again. 

The Emperor was up at eleven the next 
morning, and summoned Marshal Macdonald. 
It was in these days of trouble that Napoleon first 
learned to appreciate the solid qualities and fine 
character of this man. He had spent a bad 
night ; his face was pale and drawn, like that of 
a corpse, and his eyes sunk back deep in their 
sockets. But he mastered himself, and signed 
the treatise in his usual hand. He then thanked 
Macdonald in fine, manly words, and regretted that 
he had only just learned to appreciate him. He 


sent the marshal, as a memento, Murad Bey's 
splendid Turkish sabre, which he had himself 
taken in the battle of Tabor. 

By the treaty the Emperor, Empress, and 
imperial family retained their rank and title. 
Elba was to be an independent kingdom with a 
revenue of two millions one million being for 
the Empress, Marie Louise. She also received 
Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla, the Italian 
duchies that Napoleon's sisters had held. A 
million was settled on Josephine, and many other 
settlements were made on Napoleon's friends 
and the army ; but it is sad to read of these things, 
as no one received the money that was promised. 
On April 10th the court that Marie Louise kept at 
Blois was dispersed, and she and her son were 
sent to Vienna. All the Bonapartes fled to 

At last, on April 20th, Napoleon had to part 
from the army, and from the Guard. They were 
drawn up in the great courtyard at Fontainebleau, 
and he came down the steps and walked slowly 
through the ranks. There were still faces he had 
seen at Arcole, Aboukir, Marengo, Austerlitz, 
Jena, Friedland, Somo-Sierra, Wagram and Mos- 
cow. The whole brilliant history of his career was 
unfolded about him. With some difficulty he 
spoke his short and admirable speech : 

' I have to bid you farewell, soldiers. We 
have been together for twenty years, and I am 
proud of you. I have always seen you on the 
path of honour. Europe has turned against me, 


and some of my generals have been untrue to 
their duty and their country. France itself would 
have a new future. I might have fought a civil 
war with you and the other brave men who have 
been loyal to me ; but France would have suffered. 
Be true to your new king, listen to your new 
chiefs. Let our dear country never lack your 
arms. Bemoan not my fate. I shall be happy 
if I hear that you are. I might have chosen 
death. If I have chosen life, it is to enhance 
your great fame. I will write of the great deeds 
we have done together. I cannot embrace all 
of you, but I will embrace your general. Come, 
General Pelet, and let me press you to my 
breast. Then hand me the eagle, and let me kiss 
it. May that kiss resound in the days to come. 
Farewell, my children. My good wishes will 
ever follow you. Bear me in your memories.' 

It is not surprising that the hardened soldiers 
and the man of marble wept as they stood there 
to take farewell in the old courtyard that had so 
often rung with their band and their ' Vive 

During the journey through France to the 
south there was danger more than once of the 
excited people laying hands on the fallen Emperor. 
But on May 3rd he reached Porto Ferrajo, on the 
island of Elba, in an English frigate. His suite 
consisted of Generals Bertrand, Drouot and Cam- 
bronne, and 400 men of the Guard. His mother 
and Pauline afterwards joined him. His faithful 
lover, Countess Walewska, was also in Elba. His 


servants, too, were there, with the exception of 
his chamber-servant Constant, who had been 
with him many years ; an unfortunate misunder- 
standing kept him away. 

Constant tells the story himself as follows. 
On one of the last days at Fontainebleau the 
Emperor gave him a draft for 100,000 francs, 
and told him to convert it into gold and hide it. 
He did so, and hid the gold in his garden in the 
belief that the money was a parting gift from the 
Emperor ; and in view of the freedom with which 
money circulated about Napoleon the idea was 
not very improbable. Hence, when Constant 
put his accounts before General Bertrand on the 
last day and handed over all monies belonging 
to the Emperor that he had, he made no mention 
of the 100,000 francs. Napoleon told Bertrand 
that there were 100,000 francs short in Constant's 
accounts, and that he did not remember having 
made him a present of the sum. Pained that 
the Emperor had put him in a questionable light 
to Bertrand, Constant dug up the money, and 
handed it over ; but in his agitation he also 
begged General Bertrand to tell the Emperor 
that he had left his service and was not going to 

It is difficult to say what was passing in 
Napoleon's mind at the time. It is unlike him 
to be unjust or inconsiderate to his servants. 
They all loved him, and remained with him. He 
afterwards made some attempt at reconciliation, 
but Constant remained obdurate. 


It was clear that the fall of Napoleon was 
equivalent to the reinstatement of the legitimate 
royal house. Hence, although the Allies came into 
Paris as enemies and conquerors, there was a 
certain air of festivity about their entry. In 
spite of the Revolution and Napoleon there were 
still many who were loyal to the old house ; and 
ladies, old and young, came out with flowers, and 
court was paid to the foreign princes, the Tsar 
especially being honoured in certain circles at 
Paris. He was not unwilling to receive their 
homage, though his wild soldiers were doing more 
than all the other foreign troops to ravage Paris 
and the north of France. 

Meantime, the foreign princes had to return 
to their countries and restore order everywhere. 
Some of them pondered with alarm on all they 
had endured in the way of songs and speeches 
during the so-called ' wars of freedom.' It was 
quite time to put a stop to all this. Moreover, 
the boundary-stones of Europe had to be shifted 
back to their old positions. They were all mixed 
up after the doings of this terrible man. A great 
congress was fixed for June 20th at Vienna. 


As soon as all danger was over the Bourbons 
swarmed in with their hungry flocks of emigrants, 
stout King Louis XVIII at their head. The 
times were changed at a stroke. The Tuileries 
was filled with new faces, the faces of old families 
that had not been seen there for twenty or thirty 
years. Instead of the noisy officers with swords 
and spurs echoing through the rooms, one 
now saw discreet, bewigged courtiers in ancient 
dress, or young dandies who had had nothing to 
do with the banishment. Instead of the Emperor 
walking into the rooms with short, firm step, with 
close silk hose and shoes, or glittering cavalry 
boots with a slight jingle of spurs, one now saw 
the adipose Bourbon moving ponderously about 
with huge purple velvet slippers on his gouty feet. 

If we would understand the attitude in 1814 
of the men who had worked with Napoleon, we 
must knowing what happened afterwards for- 
get the Hundred Days, and imagine that the first 
return of the Bourbons was the definitive close of 
Napoleon's career. On this supposition it seemed 
quite natural to numbers of officers to remain in 
their positions and take the oath to the new head 
of the State. One was in the service of France 
just as before, and was ready to fight its enemies 
under the generals appointed by the government 
In this way Marshals Macdonald, Oudinot and 
Lefebvre could retain their commands under the 
King without any scruple. So also Victor, St. Cyr, 
Kellermann, Maison and Lauriston, and a large 
number of officers, went over to the Bourbons 
while Napoleon was in Elba. 


But there were some who had been in such 
close personal touch with Napoleon that they found 
it impossible to serve under another prince. 
Amongst these were the Viceroy Eugene, Napo- 
leon's cousin Arrighi, and Sebastiani, Generals 
Mouton, Savary, Cambronne, Grouchy, and many 
others. The Bourbons were ready to receive the 
distinguished men, especially Napoleon's less loyal 
friends. They needed them for several reasons. 
But however eager they were to attach a man 
who had won European fame, they were just as 
merciless to the lower officers and the common 
soldiers. Wherever they found it possible to 
disturb and displace what had been respected in 
France for the last twenty years, they set to work 
with the petty malice that was characteristic of 
the family. The army was flooded with elderly 
generals who knew nothing, and did not want to 
know anything, about its new organization, its 
glory, and its traditions. The young nobles had 
grown up abroad in a disdainful contempt of 
Napoleon, his army, and everything he did. 

They at once chose as Minister of War the 
man who had the worst reputation in the army 
General Dupont, who had capitulated at Baylen. 
An immense number of subordinate officers were 
dismissed, and were replaced by lackeys and other 
useless people. Three thousand veterans of the 
republican and imperial wars were driven out of 
the Hotel des Invalides, where they had found 
refuge, and were forced to wander over the country 
as crippled mendicants. Their place was occupied 


by old royal servants from La Vendee, who had 
opposed the Revolution and Napoleon as long as 

In the course of a few months a deep, silent 
anger spread amongst the people. Though the 
infatuated Bourbons and their men had no sus- 
picion of it, there was a temper throughout the 
whole of France that was extremely dangerous, 
seeing that the man who had led them a short 
time before to unexampled power and glory was 
still alive and not far away. The Emperor was 
well aware of all this. He knew the country so 
well that he could read between the lines of the 
journals he received and see the awful blunders 
of King Louis ; how not only the army, but the 
whole people, just as in the revolutionary times, 
was enraged at the stupid and unfair treatment. 

It is true that he had few visitors in Elba. 
The English saw to that. But King Joachim 
had veered round once more and drawn close to 
Napoleon. He had from Italy the best oppor- 
tunity of communicating with Elba, and when he 
sent word in the beginning of 1815 that the Vienna 
Congress was disposed to follow Talleyrand's ad- 
vice and send him to St. Helena, the Emperor's 
resolution was made. Ammunition was secretly 
brought from Naples, a few arms from Algiers, 
and a few small boats from Genoa. Suddenly, 
at a pre-arranged signal, his men embarked at 
Porto Ferrajo at eight o'clock in the evening on 
February 26th, 1816. There were 1,000 men alto- 
gether : the 400 grenadiers went with the Emperor 


on board a small brig with twenty-six guns. The 
others were distributed amongst the smaller boats. 

In order to divert attention the Emperor 
gave a feast that evening, at which his mother 
and sister did the honours. He then slipped on 
board in the darkness, and sailed with six other 
small craft for France. He had the same wonder- 
ful luck that he always had on the Mediterranean. 
He reached a French harbour with his flotilla on 
March 1st, without being discovered by the English. 
The only incident during the voyage was that 
he was hailed by a French frigate, and asked how 
the Emperor was doing at Elba. Napoleon him- 
self replied that the Emperor was doing very 
well. Otherwise the whole time was taken up with 
working, dictating and writing proclamations. 

A modern author has pointed out that the 
man who came from Elba was no longer the 
General Bonaparte who leaped to land after the 
return from Egypt. The little officer of 1799, 
thin, inflexible in will, had become the stout head 
of a state, irresolute and sensuous. Everything 
depends on the bodily frame. It is the thin men 
who succeed, and to whom the future belongs. Those 
who become stout have to struggle against irreso- 
luteness, or, rather, their qualities change and 
degenerate. Nevertheless, in stout men the orig- 
inal characters continue to predominate. The 
thinker remains a thinker ; the man of action 
retains his power to bend and lead men. But the 
salient features are modified in both types of 
men. The thinker becomes coarse-grained and 
cynical ; the man of energy becomes egoistic. 


In the case of Napoleon there were other rea- 
sons that contributed to his change and downfall. 
He was accustomed to see the most scandalous 
advances on the part of all the women he came in 
contact with. The imprudent Pauline wrote from 
Elba letters that were stolen and read by others. 
In letters to two colonels who were intimate friends 
of hers she told one that he must not come because 
Napoleon was so jealous, and the other to come 
as quickly as possible because she had so much 
time left. 

But that he was by no means so greatly 
altered as to entertain anything strange or new, 
or that he had lost anything of himself, was soon 
to be made quite clear. Apart from the renewal 
of trouble and the fresh outrages that his return 
brought upon France, the deed itself is one of the 
most splendid that any man ever achieved. The 
man who had barely escaped being torn to pieces 
by his embittered people ten months before, now 
returned to the very same spots, and no sooner 
did the armies that were sent against him catch 
sight of his grey coat but they broke out into 
wild cries of 4 Long live the Emperor ! ' No 
sooner did they hear his voice but they faced 
about, and were ready to follow him to death once 

It began at Grenoble. The road was blocked, 
and the king's soldiers were ready to fire on Napo- 
leon and his little troop. He walked on foot up 
to his grenadiers, drew aside his old military coat, 
and said quietly : 


* Is there any one here who will shoot his 
Emperor ? ' Their whole attitude changed at 
once. The ranks broke out into a unanimous 
cry of ' Long live the Emperor ! ' A single shot 
from either side would have given the whole thing 
a different turn. The brave Colonel Labedoyere 
led the seventh regiment over to him. He entered 
the fortress of Grenoble, the townsmen themselves 
tearing down the gates. The rejoicing was in- 
describable. In one moment the Emperor had 
become again the idol of the French army. 

When it was known in Paris news did not 
travel fast a hundred years ago a royal resolu- 
tion appeared in the Moniteur, declaring General 
Bonaparte an outlaw. The journal announced 
at the same time that the venture was a failure, 
and that Bonaparte was hiding in the mountains, 
without any supporters, from the vengeance of 
the people. The king's nephew, the Duke of 
Angouleme, was waiting to receive the Emperor 
at Lyons, together with Marshals Massena and 
Macdonald and Generals Marchand and Duvernet. 
The troops deserted. The Duke and Macdonald 
had to fly from the town, and it received the 
Emperor as Grenoble had done. He had spoken 
words at Grenoble that awakened the highest hopes : 
' From this time forward I shall not be the des- 
pot of France, but its best citizen.' But before 
he left Lyons the despot appeared in him, even 
worse than ever. He published a decree dissolv- 
ing the Chambers and ordering a fresh extra- 
ordinary assembly of the elective colleges of the 


kingdom. They were to revise the constitution, 
and crown the Empress and the King of Rome. 

But at the same time he published another 
decree, in which a number of deserters were im- 
peached and their property confiscated. Amongst 
these were Talleyrand, Marmont and Bourienne. 
Augereau's name was struck off the list at the 
request of the generals. Even General Bertrand 
and Maret hesitated to sign these decrees. c I 
won't sign,' said Bertrand. * This is not what 
the Emperor promised.' And when the Emperor 
asked his companion at a banquet at Lyons, 
Mme. Duchatel, if her husband, who had control 
of the State property, had confiscated Talleyrand's 
property yet, she drily answered : * There is no 
hurry, Your Majesty.' The Emperor turned 
away, and changed the subject. 

The unfortunate Marshal Ney, whose head 
was very much out of proportion to his courage, 
had promised Louis XVIII that he would bring 
him Napoleon in an iron cage. But when he 
approached his old master, he went over to him. 
Napoleon received him well and embraced him. 
However, they both felt that this iron cage had 
come between them. The relations between them 
never became like what they had been, and Ney 
was no longer the same man. 

At four o'clock in the morning on March 20th 
Napoleon rode once more into the courtyard at 
Fontainebleau, where he had parted from his 
Guard a year before. Ho now had his whole army 
back again. That night Louis XVIII left the 


palace of his fathers, surrounded by a nervous 
group of people anxious to get away from Paris. 
The Vienna Congress, where dissension had begun 
to set in, now joined in a strong alliance against 
the common enemies. 

On the evening of March 20th the Emperor 
entered Paris. In front of the Tuileries he was 
seized by the crowd, which could contain itself no 
longer. They lifted him out of the carriage, and 
carried him up the steps into the brightly lit 
rooms, where he found his old ministers and mar- 
shals, and the officers, servants and ladies of the 
Court. All the Bonapartes were there, even 
Lucien. An improvised guard, consisting of gen- 
erals alone, kept watch in his antechambers, and 
the rejoicing was universal. The next morning 
it was announced in the Moniteur : * His Majesty 
the Emperor returned to Fontainebleau last 

With incredible swiftness Paris and the greater 
part of the country accepted the situation. Once 
more, for a hundred days, Prance became an em- 
pire fighting the whole of Europe. Many of his 
faithful supporters were ready to take up at once 
the positions they had formerly filled, so that a 
great deal of the vast administration went on 
almost without interruption. The Postmaster- 
General, Lavalette, whom the King had dismissed, 
returned to his bureau at the first news of Napo- 
leon's landing. But there were hard times for a 
good many. Thousands of officers had sworn 
fidelity to King Louis, and now the Emperor was 


there, inviting them to return. It was difficult 
to resist, and difficult to know how the whole 
thing would end. His return and the way in 
which the country received him seemed to prove 
that the future was with him once more. 

When they had recovered somewhat from 
their astonishment the people looked to Napoleon 
to make good the promise he had made repeatedly 
since he landed, of giving France a free constitution 
and ruling in constitutional form. In spite of the 
advice and resistance of all his old friends and 
servants, the Emperor published a supplementary 
Act to the imperial constitution, maintaining the 
absolutism of former days. France at once under- 
stood that Napoleon had come back unchanged, 
without any appreciation of the popular demand for 
freedom such as one might have expected from so 
great a man after such trials. All the friends of 
legal conditions under a free constitution, who had 
gladly hailed him as the dictator who would rid 
the land of the stupid and malicious regimentalism 
of the Bourbons, were bitterly disappointed, and 
withdrew in despondency. From this day for- 
ward there was nothing to face the fresh humilia- 
tion that Europe was preparing to inflict on France 
except an army under the control of one man, 
and a nation that silently and despondently waited 
for the inevitable. 

The Emperor named 118 new members of the 
House of Peers. This time he did not choose his 
men chiefly from the old nobility, for whom he had 
formerly a weakness. There were five or six who 


refused the honour. To the Emperor's distress, 
Macdonald was one of these. Afterwards all the 
emigrants ran about boasting that they had re- 
fused to accept the peerage from Napoleon. 

He then held the great assembly that he had 
projected. It was called the Champ de Mai, and 
was to recall the ceremonious oath that Louis XVI 
had sworn in 1790 on the same spot. An immense 
altar was erected in the Champ de Mars. Napo- 
leon appeared in a fantastic imperial garb with 
huge feathers in his hat that covered the stout 
little man. The ceremony, which he had arranged 
himself, was very pompous. Oaths and promises 
were made in flamboyant language, and the army 
was jubilant. Otherwise, however, the general 
attitude was tame, and nothing came of it. This 
was on the 1st of June. 

At last war broke out, and Napoleon left 
Paris in the night between June 1 1th and 1 2th. The 
campaign was short, and was only conducted in 
the north, on the Belgian frontier, against the 
English under Wellington and the Prussians under 
Bliicher. Murat was never restored to his real 
self, though he had returned to Napoleon's side. 
On May 3rd he attacked the Austrians prematurely, 
and against Napoleon's orders, at Tolentino, and 
his Neapolitans were badly beaten. He threw 
himself time after time on the enemy, but proved 
to be still invulnerable. After aimlessly wander- 
ing about he was taken prisoner and shot. 

The great names now made their last appear- 
ance in the last army, though many of the Em- 


peror's best generals were missing. Davoust had 
met Napoleon at Paris and accepted the position 
of Minister of War. Marshal Soult came from 
Spain, and took a command, as did also Generals 
Clausel, Decaen and Labord. A comparatively 
large number of officers came from Spain, where 
the troops had not shared the Russian and Saxon 
campaigns and Napoleon's defeat. With them 
were Ney, Exelmans, Gerard, Girard, Milhaud, 
Morand, Friant, Lefebvre-Desnouettes, Pajol and 
Vandamme. General Grouchy had been made a 

Napoleon's plan was that Marshal Ney with 
the left wing should as soon as possible take 
the position of Quatre-Bras in the direction of 
Brussels, where Wellington had his headquarters. 
At the same time Marshal Grouchy was to occupy 
the village of Fleurus, and thus Wellington and 
Bliicher would be kept apart. The plan was good, 
and it looked as if all was going to be done accord- 
ing to their calculations. On the evening of 
June 14th there was perfect confidence and quiet- 
ness at Brussels, Charleroi and Namur. No one 
had any suspicion of the Emperor's plan, and the 
army began to march. But on the evening of 
June 16th a French general deserted, and went over 
with two colonels to the Prussians, and in this 
way Napoleon's plan was made known to Bliicher. 

The traitor was General Bourmont. He was 
a brave officer, and had fought with unflinching 
courage down to the battle of Montereau in 1814, 
at which he was wounded. He was one of the 


officers that Napoleon did not particularly trust, 
but Ney and Girard had so warmly recommended 
him that he received a command. There were 
not now so many officers to choose from, and 
Napoleon no longer acted on his own ideas. The 
same General Bourmont who deserted from Napo- 
leon the night before the battle gained honours 
and dignities under the Bourbons, and was at 
length made a marshal after the war in Algiers in 

It was even worse for Napoleon that Ney by 
no means led his corps as he used to do. Instead 
of advancing rapidly on Frasnes with the whole 
of the second corps, which would have enabled 
the first corps to take up a position at Gosselios, 
and from there easily occupy Quatre-Bras, which 
was not far from Frasnes, the Marshal sent only a 
small division on Frasnes, and as a result the left 
wing remained too far behind. 

On June 16th the Emperor beat Blucher in a 
pitched battle at Ligny. Here General Girard, 
one of the heroes of Liitzen, met his fate. Both 
before and during the battle the Emperor sent 
message after message to tell Marshal Ney to 
march as quickly as possible eastwards from Qua- 
tre Bras, and drive the Prussians into the arms of 
Grouchy who was at Sombreuf. In this way 
Bliicher's army would have been completely sur- 
rounded. ' The fate of France is in your hand,' 
the Emperor said to Ney. * The war can be 
decided within three hours.' 


Now, however, General Drouot, Count of 
Erlon not the artillery-general Drouot made 
a false move, in consequence of a misunderstand- 
ing, and the opportunity of surrounding the Prus- 
sians was lost. Napoleon then broke clean through 
the enemy. Bliicher, who believed he was on 
the point of winning, was kept off by the French 
cavalry under Milhaud and Gerard. The aged 
Field-Marshal himself fell under his horse, and the 
French cavalry swept over him without knowing 
it. The Prussians lost 20,000 men, 40 guns, and 
8 flags at Ligny. It was a complete victory ; 
but it was nothing in comparison with what it 
might have been but for Count d'Erlon's mis- 
understanding, and if Ney had advanced at the 
proper time with the left wing. 

After the battle Napoleon sent his adjutant 
Flahaut to Marshal Ney with orders to occupy 
Quatre-Bras at once and keep off Wellington until 
the Emperor could come up. In order to ward 
off Bliicher and General Billow while he finished 
the English, the Emperor sent Marshal Grouchy 
eastwards with a strong force of 50,000 men, and 
told him to watch the movements of the Prussian 
generals. This led to disaster. Bliicher, who 
had found Billow, gained so much time and 
marched so rapidly that he passed Grouchy to 
the north and hurried westwards to Waterloo, 
and reached the field in the afternoon. 

The battle had begun at one o'clock, and the 
whole plan was based on the fact of Grouchy 
opposing the Germans with 50,000 men. In the 


afternoon the battle was as good as lost for the 
English. Ney had completely recovered on the 
field and performed marvels of bravery. At last 
he advanced on foot at the head of his battalions 
of the guard, together with Friant, Cambronne, 
and Duhesme. But Grouchy was marching away 
from the field in a totally unintelligible fashion. 
He took no notice of the orders he received from 
Exelmans and Gerard, and ignored Napoleon's 
old general order to march always towards the 
thunder of the guns. And while he failed to come 
up in time to take part in the battle, Biilow did 
so, and Blucher shortly after him, and the battle 
was irretrievably lost to the French. The whole 
army was destroyed. Only a few stubborn frag- 
ments of the guard remained on the field, and 
were eventually saved by Morand and Colbert. 

It is very striking to see how often hi these 
two battles, Ligny and Waterloo, everything hung 
on a single thread. If Ney had made haste he 
might have caught Wellington at the ball at 
Brussels. If D'Erlon had not made a false move, 
the Prussians would have been surrounded at 
Ligny. Blucher might have been taken prisoner 
if any one had recognized him ; and Napoleon 
might have won the battle of Waterloo if Grouchy 
had done his duty. All this means, of course, 
that the whole apparatus which had once worked 
so accurately and flawlessly, as well as the chief 
himself, were somewhat worn. His generals had 
lost their blind faith in his invincibility in Russia. 
It was now plain that this belief was the real 
cause of his invincibility. 


In the indescribable confusion that followed 
the battle Napoleon rode alone and unrecognized 
in the stream of fugitives. After the battle the 
general staff, with the Duke of Bassano and the 
Emperor's secretaries, had lost sight of him. 
They looked for him for a long time, and at last 
heard that he had been seen riding on the road to 
Laon. They then hurried after him through the 
turmoil and the enemy's cavalry, which was at 
work everywhere. They happened to come across 
Napoleon's own horses, and took one each. Maret 
was so impregnated with reverence that they had 
the greatest difficulty in persuading him to mount 
one of the Emperor's own horses, although the 
Prussians were close on their heels. They found 
the Emperor in a frightful condition at Philippe- 
ville in a wretched house, without carriage or 
anything. His officers were covered with wounds 
and blood and dirt, and almost unrecognizable. 
Their eyes were swollen with weeping, and they 
were quite undone. 

Luckily Marshal Soult's carriages came along, 
and the Emperor mounted one of them with Ber- 
trand. In the next were Maret, Drouot, and a 
couple of generals, and in the third were the 
younger officers, Fleury, Labedoyere, Flahaut, and 
Corbineau. The officers spent the time in talk- 
ing. Labedoyere thought the disaster would 
bring the whole of France together. Fleury was 
of opinion that the Chambers would fall on the 
Emperor as the man who had ruined the country. 
' If they do,' said Labedoyere, ' we shall have 


the Allies at Paris again in a week, and then the 
Bourbons, and I shall be the first to be shot.' 
Flahaut believed the Emperor was lost if he went 
to Paris. It was only at the head of an army 
that he would be able to treat with the Allies in 
favour of his son. * But,' he added, * perhaps 
most of our generals are at this moment making 
their submission to the king.' ' I agree with 
Flahaut that he is lost if he goes to Paris,' said 
Fleury. ' They will never forgive the Emperor 
for leaving the army four times in Egypt, Spain, 
at Smorgoni, and now here in the middle of 

At Laon there were about 3,000 men with 
King Jerome, who behaved like a man now that 
the disaster had come. There were also Marshal 
Soult and Generals Morand, Colbert and Petit. 
It was the general feeling of the higher officers 
that the Emperor ought to go at once to Paris, 
and they made every effort to persuade him. He 
resisted them for a long time, and when he yielded 
at length to their pressure he said : * Very good, 
I will go to Paris. But I am quite sure that you 
are inducing me to do something foolish.' General 
Bonaparte could never have spoken those words. 

He left it to Marshal Soult, who took Ber- 
thier's place as head of the general staff, to collect 
and organize the remains of the army, and he 
began to dictate the bulletin on the battle of 
Waterloo, which he submitted to his generals. 
He was just as candid in describing his defeat as 
he had been at Smorgoni in the 29th bulletin. 


Curiously enough, however, the generals could not 
induce him to say in the bulletin that all the 
imperial carriages had fallen into the hands of the 
enemy. They contained his clothes, his money, 
his papers, and a number of small private matters, 
as well as a very valuable diamond necklace that 
Pauline had given him to be used in emergency. 
On his arrival at Paris the Emperor descended 
at the Elysee Palace, not the Tuileries, which he 
never again entered. If he had gone into the 
Chamber of Deputies just as he came from the 
field as he had thought of doing and had des- 
cribed in his irresistible language what great re- 
sources he still had, thanks to his vast prepara- 
tions, it might have been possible to carry the 
assembly with him and obtain fresh sacrifices 
from the exhausted country. But his powerful 
frame had at length succumbed to the terrible 
fatigue. He had been in the saddle almost con- 
tinuously from June 15th, and in great pain part of 
the time. He had fought two battles in three days, 
and had gone through the awful night after 
Waterloo. He was quite unfit to speak in a large 
assembly. Meantime, Fouch6 contrived to set 
feeling against the Emperor in the Chamber. The 
Chamber of Peers followed suit, and Napoleon 
was forced to abdicate the crown a second time. 
He did so in favour of his son, Napoleon II. A 
provisional government was formed by Fouche, 
Carnot and General Grenier, and was to treat 
with the Allied princes, who now approached Paris 
for the second time. 


On June 22 the Emperor asked for two fri- 
gates, which lay at Rochefort, to be put at his 
disposal, to take him and his family to America. 
He decided to wait at Malmaison for the answer 
to this request, as a large crowd of inquisitive folk 
had gradually formed round the Elysee Palace. 
If he had obtained the ships when he asked for 
them he would easily have escaped, as the English 
were not yet watching the coast. But Fouche, 
who was very anxious that one or the other 
Napoleon should be done away with, wasted time 
and made a great parade of getting the frigates 
ready ; and at the same time wrote to Wellington 
for passes for Napoleon and his suite. It hardly 
needed so much as that to put England on the 
alert, and from that moment it was impossible 
to leave the French coast. 

While the Emperor was at Malmaison, where 
he had spent a happy time as First Consul, Count 
Flahaut rode one day to Paris to ask for the 
passes they were to receive. In the Tuileries he 
met the Prince of Eckmiihl. ' Your Bonaparte 
is taking his time,' said Davoust. ' Tell him 
from me that he had better make haste. If he 
does not start at once I shall have to have him 
arrested. I will come myself, in fact, and arrest 
him.' * I did not expect to hear such language 
as that from a man who was at Napoleon's feet 
a week ago,' said Flahaut. Davoust adopted a 
lofty tone, and wanted the adjutant arrested, but 
Flahaut fulfilled his mission. When he came 
back to Malmaison and told of his meeting with 


Davoust, the Emperor said resignedly : * Let 
him come. I am ready to offer him my neck.' 

The indecision and confusion amongst Napo- 
leon's officers were now at their height. A large 
number of them had compromised themselves in 
the Hundred Days, and they all knew that the 
Bourbons would take serious measures with them 
on their return. Savary and many others went 
abroad. Massena had gone over to the King at 
the first restoration, and Napoleon had failed to 
bring him back when he returned from Elba. 
The marshal was given command of the National 
Guard at Paris in succession to General Durosnel, 
the man who had saved his wife at Prince Schw- 
artzenberg's ball. During the Russian campaign 
the news reached Paris that General Dufrosnel 
had been killed. His wife put on deep mourning, 
and made the whole family do the same. But 
it was announced shortly afterwards that the 
general was only wounded, and she tore off her 
mourning. She told the servants to bring their 
black clothes into the courtyard, and they made 
a bonfire of them with great rejoicing. 

Marshal Jourdan and General Rapp were 
with the army on the Rhine, and they retained 
their commands. Napoleon asked General Drouot, 
who had been with him in Elba, to follow him to 
America. But Drouot would not abandon his 
command of the Imperial Guard, fearing to expose 
them to the vengeance of the Bourbons. The 
Emperor then turned to Savary, the Duke of 


Rovigo, who promised to accompany him. Mean- 
time the Allied armies were approaching, and the 
Prussians seemed to be advancing on Malmaison. 
The Emperor, therefore, took leave of Queen Hor- 
tense and the few faithful friends and servants 
who were still with him, and reached Rochefort 
with Savary and Bertrand on July 3rd. 

On that very day Paris was surrendered to 
Field Marshal Bliicher at St. Cloud, where he 
had fixed his headquarters. The French army 
was sent across the Loire to be disarmed. The 
Moniteur at the same time published a declaration 
from the King, in which he said : * I hear that a 
gate is open to my kingdom, and I hasten to 
return by it.' It is a very different style from 
Napoleon's. The declaration, which had been 
prepared by Talleyrand, as chief of the ministry, 
also promised the royal pardon to all except those 
who had taken part in the revolt of the Hundred 

At Rochefort and on the west coast of France 
there was still a strong feeling in favour of the 
Emperor. General Qausel had a few ships ready 
at Bordeaux, but it was obviously impossible 
to elude the English, and Napoleon went of his 
own accord on board the Englishtf rigate Bellerophon, 
and said to Captain Maitland : ' I surrender to 
the generosity of the English nation.' In point 
of fact it was the best, if not the only, tiling he 
could do. If he had been captured, his life might 
have been in some danger. It is true that Napo- 
leon cared little about life at the time, but it is 


an intolerable thing for an officer to be taken 
prisoner, disarmed, and perhaps shot by a file of 
soldiers. His relations to all the foreign princes 
were such that he would have found it a torture 
worse than death to see them again in his present 
position. They were the King of Prussia, whom 
he had pitilessly robbed and humiliated, the 
Emperor of Austria, his own father-in-law, whose 
armies he had fought for twenty years ; and lastly, 
the Emperor Alexander, who had cynically duped 
him and brought about his downfall. 

Of the English he was only acquainted with 
subjects of the King. They also were enemies, 
but he had no others to turn to. And he was 
quite right in trusting to the generosity of the 
English people. He was destined to be disap- 
pointed, but it was a disappointment for the 
whole world as well. People had then, and have 
still, a better opinion of the English^; and I 
believe Great Britain's gentlemen are ashamed 
to this day of what was done. Exaggerated as 
some of the accounts are, it is certain that Napo- 
leon was treated with a deliberate pettiness and 
made to suffer in the most tasteless manner. If 
there had been a single great man amongst his 
enemies he might have prevented them all from 
passing down to posterity with the disgrace of 
their vindictiveness. 

Napoleon wrote a letter to the Prince Regent, 
the most powerful, dignified and noble of his 
enemies. But his letter met with a worse fate 


than any other of his autograph letters to sove- 
reigns. Gourgaud, who took it, was not even 
allowed to land in England. The Bellerophon 
spent an interminable time cruising between the 
coasts of England and France, and at last the 
news came that Napoleon had to be taken to St. 
Helena. He and his companions were disarmed 
and searched. Diamonds, money, and objects 
of value were taken from them to be * used in 
paying for their maintenance.' All letters to or 
from them were to be read by the governor. 

Generals Bertrand, Montholon and Gour- 
gaud, and the Lord of the Chamber, Las Cases, 
were allowed to accompany him. But Generals 
Savary and Lallemand, who had already been 
condemned to death by King Louis, had to leave 
the ship. On August 7th the Emperor and his 
suite were transferred to the frigate Northumber- 
land, and on October 17th he was landed on the 
island of St. Helena. 


Napoleon was a changed man when he came 
from Elba, but the Allied princes also were very 
different beings when they entered Paris in triumph 
for the second time. They were full of confidence, 
and restored to high spirits after their recent anxiety. 
They had a cordial reception, as there was now 
much more ill-feeling against the Emperor. The 
Tsar took up his residence at Talleyrand's once 
more and received general homage. And when 
they had once more gone thoroughly through 
the collections at the Louvre and elsewhere, to make 
sure that there was not a single bit of canvas or 
marble left that the Emperor had brought to 
Paris, they departed for their various countries, 
and left the adipose Bourbon to restore peace and 
order in his rescued country, on which the Cossacks 
had again made their violent impression. 

The German princes returned home chiefly 

with the intention of stifling as quickly as possible 

the rising of the people that had been so useful 

to them when their thrones were in danger, but 



which was of no further use to them now. They 
went back with the stupid and ungrateful determi- 
nation to suppress or break the forces from below, 
which seemed to them to spell nothing but revolt 
and danger. All the light that the movement in 
young Germany would have spread over Europe, if 
the outbreak had been understood and appreciated, 
was now rigorously put out by the arch-extinguisher 
Metternich. Germany settled down again, in 
apparent content, in the semi-darkness. It is 
there still ; and a colossal amount of beer has 
flowed in the meantime. 

It is this reaction that I had chiefly intended 
to study. At first it was almost worse in France 
than in Germany. The arrogance and the stupidity 
of the Bourbons were boundless. What they did 
to Ney was not the worst. Ney had boasted of 
his iron cage, and it had been hard for the legiti- 
mate King to see how the majority of his magnates 
and the whole army had gone over to the hated 
enemy. They had to show some rigour, and make 
an example somewhere ; and Ney's case seemed a 
very bad one. Several attempts were made, 
however, to prevent an execution that every 
Frenchman felt as a knife in his heart. The 
marshal was almost afforded an opportunity to 
escape. But he was completely dazed and in- 
capable of decisive action. He would not 
move, and so he was arrested, to the general 
regret. His legal defenders did all they could. 
The marshals refused to condemn him ; some 
because they were his friends, some because they 


were his enemies. The Chamber of Peers had to in- 
tervene to pass the verdict, and he was condemned 
to death, as was to be expected. His wife begged 
in vain for a pardon. The King was inexorable. 
The mean, miserable being to whom France owed 
nothing thought fit, in virtue of his legitimate 
royal blood, to put to death the greatest soldier 
of the country. Ney was shot by twelve poor 
soldiers, who were commanded to do it. 

When the marshal had dropped it was in 
the garden of the Luxembourg Palace an English- 
man rode up at full gallop, leaped over the fallen 
hero, and disappeared. This was supposed to 
symbolize the triumph of the conquerors. It was 
as tasteless as everything that England did to 
Napoleon and his men. There was also a Russian 
general in full uniform on horseback amongst the 
spectators ; but the Emperor Alexander drove 
him out of the army when he heard of it. 

The brave Colonel Labedoyere also met his 
fate, as he had predicted in the carriage when they 
were flying from Waterloo. He was executed, 
to the general regret. Lavalette, who had taken 
over the Postal department, was arrested, and 
only escaped execution by his wife changing 
clothes with him in his cell, and sending him out 
disguised while she remained in his clothes. She 
was a cousin of the Empress Josephine. 

The Bourbons inaugurated a reign of terror, 
known as the White Terror to distinguish it from 
that during the Revolution. Men were tried, 
transported, or executed, and there was no limit 


to the abasement of the army. The emigrants 
the five thousand that Talleyrand had spoken of 
swarmed like grubs, and heaped ridicule and 
scorn on Napoleon's armies and generals. The 
way in which the Bourbons maltreated the non- 
commissioned officers and the soldiers soon led 
the French troops to lose the fine form of the 
4 grand army.' And the deterioration was com- 
pleted when Napoleon III brought hi his rabble 
of zouaves, who even in the wars in Algiers made 
fun of the old uniforms of Bonaparte's time. 

The Prussians, on the other hand, pursued 
the opposite tactics after Jena. When the armies 
faced each other again in 1870, the great Napoleon 
would certainly have led the Prussian army with 
far more satisfaction than his own old regiments, 
as they then were. 

For the military nobility that Napoleon had 
founded the new rulers found some use, especially 
in view of the great wealth that many of these 
families had accumulated. Hence it is that 
many of Napoleon's great dignitaries came through 
the fire unscathed. In the first place, they had 
gone over to the Bourbons at the first restora- 
tion ; then they returned to Napoleon in the 
Hundred Days ; and then they came back to the 
King in 1815. A considerable number of them 
did this. Marshal Soult mounted the white cockade 
and became Minister of War under Louis XVIII, 
although he had been with Napoleon at Waterloo. 
He was a peer of France in 1827 and minister in 
1830. He lived until his eighty-second year as 


Duke of Dalmatia, and left great wealth and a 
famous gallery of Spanish paintings that he had 
' collected.' 

It was much the same with Davoust. When 
he had returned half dead, like the others, from 
the Russian campaign, he reorganized the army in 
North Germany, blew up the old bridge at Dresden 
in 1813, and shut himself up in Hamburg. For 
ten months he had the unfortunate town in his 
power ; its older inhabitants still shiver when his 
name is mentioned. It was not until May, 1814, 
that he would believe in Napoleon's fall and mount 
the white flag of the Bourbons. The Prince of 
Eckmuhl retired for a time to his large estates in 
France, but on March 21st, in spite of all that lay 
between them, he became the Emperor's Minister 
of War. The preparations he made for the war are 
famous. After Waterloo the King accepted his 
submission. He had married a sister of General 
Leclerc, Pauline's first husband ; and his youngest 
daughter or granddaughter had a large light- 
house built in 1897 in the north of France, which 
she christened the Phare d' Eckmuhl. Thus the 
peaceful name of a little German mill became the 
title of a great French leader, and shines out over 
the sea to-day in memory of him. 

Marshal St. Cyr entered the ministry. Mac- 
donald became Commander-in-Chief of the army. 
Mortier, who had blown up the Kremlin in 1812, 
was himself blown up in 1835 by the infernal 
machine that Fieschi set for Louis Philippe. The 
Count of Lobau, General Mouton, became one of 


Louis Philippe's marshals. He was a hard but 
able officer. Napoleon married him to a distin- 
guished lady of the Bavarian Court. She was in 
her twentieth year, and very charming ; he was 
in his fortieth, and very ugly. He made a short 
speech to his officers on the occasion of his wedding. 
' I desire, gentlemen, that you will look on my 
wife as a marble statue a statue of Hack marble,' 
he said, with a stern glance at the young adjutants. 
General Sebastiani was distantly related to 
the Bonapartes. He never abandoned Napoleon, 
yet he lived in high position at Paris until 1851, 
and became a marshal. Many of Napoleon's 
officers, who had worked their way up through 
the service, retained their wealth and founded 
families of which members are still found in the 
highest French aristocracy : such are Ney's descend- 
ants, the Prince of Moskwa and Duke of Elchingen, 
Lannes' family, and the Dukes of Montebello, 
Caulaincourt and Vicenza. Many other names, 
however, sank into poverty and disappeared. 
Some thought it lowering to go over to the royal- 
ists. That was the case with Las Cases. After 
his return from St. Helena he was urged to accept 
a position at Court in consonance with his rank, 
but he refused. ' We have served the great lord 
of the earth,' he said. ' When he sent us to 
foreign courts we were treated as the equals of 
princes because we wore his uniform, and we felt 
ourselves to be their equals. We have seen seven 
kings waiting in his antechambers like ourselves.' 


At the same time there were many men of 
a very different type about Napoleon ; men who 
never came really close to him because they never 
wholly appreciated him, out of a feeling that 
they took to be pride. General Thiebault was 
one of this category. He was a brave man, but 
he would not push himself forward, and so he let 
every opportunity of advancement slip by. He 
therefore very soon joined Massena and the other 
malcontents, and maintained a very foolish atti- 
tude toward the First Consul and his friends. His 
criticism was always directed against the men who 
rose, and he was one of the party of grumblers. 
He says, for instance, that it was the younger 
General Kellermann who won the battle at Mar- 
engo ; that it was not Rampon, but an unknown 
officer, who took the redoubt at Montenotte ; 
that it was not Davoust who earned the honour of 
the battle of Anerstadt, but his generals of divi- 
sions, Morand and Gudin ; that Bonaparte's 
manoeuvres before the battle of Marengo were 
conducted on a plan that he, Thiebault, had sent 
some time before to the Ministry of War. In 
everything he betrays the jealous man's inability 
to appreciate. Otherwise he was courageous and 
brave and generous. He severely criticizes Bona- 
parte for not observing the quarantine regulations 
when he returned from Egypt. However, at an- 
other place in his memoirs he tells how when he 
and his comrades came half-starved out of Mas- 
s6na's defence of Genoa, they threw the quarantine 
officials in the sea, made for Nice, and fell upon 


the available food, some of them eating for 
seven hours continuously. 

The figure of Napoleon stands out amongst 
a crowd of men like these and a thousand others. 
Their devotion and their hatred, their discontent 
and their flattery, their loyalty and their treachery, 
cast light and shade alternately about him, but 
from his own unique superiority a light is ever 
cast over all of them, gives them their character, 
and guides their development with almost the same 
force with which he controlled their destinies 
and their external conditions. Although his ideal 
did not go beyond himself, his personality was so 
strong that the others felt they were fighting and 
suffering for a greater ideal. His judgment on 
those who fell was always a measure of the in- 
dividual and his value. 

After the battle of Waterloo the whole of 
Europe breathed freely once more. The misery 
and devastation that the man had brought in great 
waves wherever he went had spread all over the 
Continent. And the farther men were from the 
centre, the less they saw of the glamour of war. 
They only felt an intolerable pressure and an un- 
easy dislocation of trade, commerce, shipping, and 
industry. In Great Britain, and along the coast 
of the North Sea as far as Hamburg and even 
Norway, it was difficult to follow Napoleon's career 
of victory with any kind of satisfaction. Every- 
thing was held up in consequence of the infatuated 
blockade of the Continent. It was, directly, Eng- 
land who nearly exhausted the life of Norway, but 


it was Prance that was responsible. Between 1807 
and 1811 the English took nineteen ships belong- 
ing to my great-grandfather. The fate of one of 
my great-uncles was also caught in the meshes 
of the Napoleonic net ; he was appointed head 
chamberlain to Bernadotte, when he became king. 
He found so much favour with the king that he 
was included amongst the envoys sent to attend 
the coronation of Nicolas I in 1826. At St. 
Petersburg he visited General Jomini, who had 
taken part hi the deliberations as to the crossing 
of the Beresina. He abandoned Napoleon in 1813, 
and went over to the enemy. My uncle found 
him adjutant-general to the Tsar, and thought him a 
man ' of striking features, but crafty.' At 
Moscow he often attended great festivals given by 
Marshal Marmont, Duke of Ragusa, who was 
the French ambassador. I should have liked 
something better than to find my great-uncle 
dispatched as envoy by one traitor, visiting a 
second and dancing at the house of a third. How- 
ever, these are political features of his mission 
that deserved some mention. 

The embassy consisted of the old Field- 
Marshal, Count von Stedingk, and one or two other 
counts on the part of Sweden, and only Major 
Jens Bull Kielland on the part of Norway. It is 
interesting to see how careful Sweden was from 
the very beginning of the union to give expression 
to the equal dignity of the two realms, especially 
when there was question of representation abroad. 
On the Norwegian coast there was always a good 


deal of feeling for England, our big brother in the 
North Sea, in spite of all the hostilities and the 
injury done to us by the arrogant English naval 
officers. I do not remember ever to have seen a 
picture of Napoleon in the old houses in my 
earliest years, or heard a song about him, or any 
mention of his name. He does not seem to have 
occupied the place that we should expect in the 
literature and the correspondence of the time in 

Napoleon's attitude to women was somewhat 
similar to his attitude towards men in this re- 
spect : he took everything that was offered 
him, and nearly everything was offered him. In 
many other respects he was a considerate and 
almost affectionate husband. His feeling for 
Josephine was maintained long after the divorce. 
One day her accounts were not in order, as usual ; 
she never managed to live within the generous 
allowance he made her. ' Go to Josephine,' he 
said sharply to a minister, ' and tell her that this 
sort of thing must stop. She must give up this 
folly.' The minister went, and returned the next 
day. ' Well, what does she say ? ' Napoleon 
asked. ' Oh, your Majesty, the Empress wept 

and 3 ' What,' cried Napoleon, ' she wept ? 

It was certainly not my intention that you should 
make Josephine weep. Go back to her at once 
and say that we will put her money-matters 
right she must shed no tears. Say the Emperor 
has commanded that she must not.' 

Josephine herself had a few straight lines 


in her not over-straight character. She had 
been the friend of the great man, and she never 
forgot it. At the time when the whole of Paris 
forgot the ruling Empress and the heir to the 
throne, during Malet's brief revolt in 1812, Joseph- 
ine said : * If there had been any real danger for 
the Empress and for Napoleon's son, I should 
have gone to her and taken my place beside her, 
no matter what people said. Hortense would 
have done the same.' 

Marie Louise was made of very different 
stuff. She never cherished the memory of having 
been the wife of the great man. She said as early 
as 1815 : ' Lord Wellington does not know how 
much he did for me when he won the battle of 
Waterloo.' Wellington did know, however. He 
has himself said : ' It is a fact that she was 
already expecting a child by the Austrian Baron 
Neippberg, whom she afterwards married. If 
Napoleon had won at Waterloo, the Empress 
would have been compelled to return to him in 
that condition.' 

When he did not care to be amiable Napoleon 
could be terrible in regard to ladies. We can readily 
believe that it was a genuine pleasure to him to 
reply to Mme. de Stael, when she asked him what 
kind of woman he thought most of : ' The one 
who brings most children into the world.' He 
knew well how rude he was, but this fishing for 
compliments was too much for him. At the same 
time he spoke the truth. He did not like intellect- 
ual women. Nor had he much more esteem for 


virtuous ones. He could not endure Queen Louisa 
of Prussia, though she was very beautiful. When, 
in her great sorrow at the misfortunes of her coun- 
try she went so far as to give the conqueror a 
rose with the words, ' This rose for Magdeburg,' 
Napoleon coldly ignored the opportunity of being 
gallant to a noble lady. He took the rose and 
kept Magdeburg. It was no wonder that he was 
called a * a lout ' in all the courts of Europe. 

The truth was he never allowed himself to be 
overruled by a woman. Josephine might succeed 
in influencing him in small matters or persuading 
him to do something that was not quite right, 
but that went to the account of friendship rather 
than love. The success of Countess Hatzfeldt 
in obtaining forgiveness for her husband at Berlin 
in 1807, and the Mmes. Polignac for their husbands 
after the Cadoudal conspiracy, had nothing to do 
with the sex of the petitioners. No one ever knew 
him to be drawn into a bad deed or a political crime 
for the sake of a woman. However strong his 
amorous passion became, Napoleon never had about 
him the scandalous troop of mistresses that is 
so often found about the courts of kings, beginning 
with King David, whom we were compelled to 
admire when we were young. 

Religion and the clergy were equally powerless 
to influence him. There was never any element 
of mysticism about Napoleon Bonaparte. He 
did not spend his youth in morbid dreams about 
the mystery of his future. He knew very well 
wjho he was. He was a great man, a man to 


whom greatness came naturally ; not in the 
same way as other pretenders to the crown, who 
go about talking of kingly ideas and saying they 
feel the presence of royal blood in their veins. 
Napoleon's ambition was healthy and strong. He 
knew nothing of supernatural powers. He trusted 
to no help beyond himself, but relied on his own 
genius and the defects of others. 

Some have represented him as having a super- 
stition about certain days, and pretended that 
he believed he had a star. Napoleon knew 
what power there is in remembrance, especially 
for soldiers. As he knew well the art of concen- 
trating his force on a given point at a given mo- 
ment in a battle, he kept fresh the memory of 
the days of victory ; and this intensified the courage 
and zeal of his soldiers, so that he had only to 
mention a number of dates and names to set the 
whole army aflame. In that sense he used to 
choose certain days, but there was no superstition 
in it. It was the same in regard to his star. One 
night at the Tuileries Cardinal Fesch had said 
a good deal in a moderate tone of all that had 
been done. He spoke of the arch that is strained, 
the vessel that goes so often to the water, and 
so on. Napoleon listened attentively to him, 
and when the cardinal had finished, he led him 
to one of the high windows, and pointed to the 
clouded sky above. 

* Do you see the star up there, uncle ? ' he 


The cardinal looked and looked. ' No ; ' 
he could see no star. 

* Well, I see it,' said Napoleon seriously, 
and walked away. 

Was there a star ? No one can say ; but it 
is at all events certain that prudent cardinals 
never see it. There was no superstition in the 

To be quite candid, I have never understood 
the affair of the Concordat and the whole of his 
relations to the papacy and the Church. I can 
only see that, though Napoleon had to deal 
with a pope who was an honourable and noble man, 
yet there was not the slightest fear of the clergy 
or any hypocrisy in himself or any of those 
about him. His proclamations and pronounce- 
ments never spoke of anything but France, 
honour, and himself ; and in this he was quite 
right. He had great princes of the Church in all 
their pomp at his gorgeous church ceremonies, 
but otherwise he had no use for the apparatus 
of religion. 

Money he treated with cold indifference. He 
never suffered cheating, and could never be 
imposed on by the big financiers. If he thought 
any one had accumulated too much, he did not 
hesitate to tap him to the extent of several mil- 
lions. The kind of thing that we have seen so 
often kings mixing with speculators and becom- 
ing so dependent on them that it is doubtful 
whether the country is really ruled by the men 
with golden crowns on their heads or the men 


with silver crowns in their banks was incon- 
ceivable in relation to Napoleon. 

He was moderate in eating and drinking. 
He could not unbend over a glass with his higher 
officials, as some kings do ; and, on the other hand, 
he could not stoop to the potations and the sense- 
less abuse of power that so many kings have been 
guilty of since the days of Alexander the Great. 

He knew very little about the fine arts. He 
liked order, splendour and symmetry, and so 
he was best disposed to architecture and decora- 
tion. His taste in regard to paintings was poor, 
and he failed to appreciate the advance made in 
his time. In literature he liked best a well- 
arranged drama, with great, simple passions 
described in verses that hung solidly together like 
his own soldiers. In musical matters he was hardly 
any better than the usual French officer. Beauti- 
ful singing was the highest musical achievement 
in his esteem. The Italian aria with the most 
difficult trills and cadences sent him into rap- 
tures. He would hardly have been pleased with 
more elaborate music, in which pure melody is 
expressed in its finest shades by the voice and 
the harmony of voice and instrument. From head 
to heel he was full of admiration of C major. 
There was no sharp for him and no b flat, and 
the minor key was far out of his range. 

It is needless to point out the vast difference 
between Napoleon and the great religious founders 
who had also caused great movements in their 
respective ages. In their case the movement 


increased, and only became a veritable power after 
their death. When Napoleon died, the Napoleonic 
movement was over. He had had no idea to give 
to the world. His thoughts did not go beyond 
his own life ; throughout his whole career he 
never thought of anything but himself. He 
shrinks at once in comparison with a modest man 
of science who expends his life to create a thought 
that will nourish and elevate posterity. But 
amongst his kind amongst those in whose circle 
his great gifts fated him to penetrate, namely, 
the princes the Emperor Napoleon stands out 
high above all. He, if any man, was the ideal 
' tyrant,' in the old sense of the word. 

Napoleon had to play with the figures that 
were on the stage, and he did not succeed. In 
his mind peace could only mean a pause between 
two wars. The idea that peace could be the nor- 
mal relation of the nations never entered his head, 
or the head of any man about him. If there 
were any head that harboured such an idea, it 
was on the shoulders of some unknown man in 
some obscure attic, writing of his Utopia in the 
dim light. 

If Napoleon reached the highest summit as 
a prince and a commander, he was also the last 
who succeeded in gathering about his person all 
the glamour that had been wont to accompany 
and adorn the bloody business of war. There 
was no more of it after his fall. War became 
afterwards an academic study. Military affairs 
came to resemble industrial interests, in which it 


is the best machines that gain the victory. We 
now strip our armies of their gold cords and waving 
plumes. The admiral, who used to stand on the 
bridge in his gala uniform, with his decorations 
and sash, now sits in a steel box and presses buttons 
like a telephone girl. When the glamour goes 
from a thing, it is near its end. It is possible 
that one day the glittering form of Napoleon 
in the remote past will be contemplated with 
equanimity by the idealists he so much despised ; 
on that day when we shall have won the greatest 
of all victories peace between nations. 

All the languages of the world have used their 
strongest adjectives at the top and the bottom of 
the scale in regard to "this man. Many writers 
have even speculated as to what a remarkable 
animal the tiger would have been if he had also 
had the qualities of the lamb. Nothing is perfect 
this side of eternity. Neither in the kitchen nor 
in life do we get perfection by taking a little bit 
of everything, and putting it all in one pot. 
Perfection is only found in a thing that has all that 
pertains to it, and not a trace of anything else. 
For my part I am glad that I need not run my 
adjectives, either the worst or the best, to death. 
For me, Napoleon is above all things a man a 
male through and through, a being compounded 
solely of masculine qualities. 

The social circle at Longwood, the Emperor's 
residence at St. Helena, lived for six years with 
the great man as its centre. There was General 
Montholon with his wife and family. His wife 


presided over the domestic establishment. General 
Bertrand and his family lived at a short distance 
from Longwood. Then there were : Las Cases with 
his young son, General Gourgaud, the Irish physi- 
cian O'Meara, and a number of faithful ser- 
vants. These few men, who all depended on the 
person of the Emperor in one or other way, were 
strangers to each other. During the long and 
painful solitude as great as if they were on a 
ship at the North Pole they often distressed 
the Emperor by their petty quarrels and jeal- 
ousies, the remains of their earlier ambitions. 
There was very nearly a duel between Generals 
Montholon and Gourgaud. 

The bitterness was increased, and the Emperor's 
last years were made more painful by the pettiness 
and refined malice with which the English treated 
him. The sort of life that was led about Napoleon 
would have proved intolerable if he had not himself 
arranged their daily doings and work with his 
characteristic good sense. Each one had his 
place and his regulations, just as at a court ; and 
this pitiful discipline, which was maintained to 
the end, never took on any tincture of absurdity. 
The Emperor was just as aloof from them as he 
had been at the Tuileries, but the irresistible 
magic that always surrounded him delivered them 
from the tediousness that would otherwise have 
killed them. 

The Emperor arranged the daily round for him- 
self and the others with fixed hours for work. He dic- 
tated an account of his campaigns to the generals, 


the Italian to one and the German to the other. 
At night the little circle sat together in conversa- 
tion, and listened to the sea breaking hopelessly 
on the island. The Emperor walked to and fro, 
or sat down to tell of some old experience or talk 
of his men. But his maladies gradually got the 
upper hand, and his iron frame slowly yielded. 
He saw the end draw near with his wonted calm- 
ness. He was ill during the whole of 1820. In 
1821 he became rapidly worse. 

On April 21st, he wrote his will ; no one, from 
his son to his servants, was forgotten in it. 'I 
should like my ashes to rest by the Seine, in the 
midst of the French people whom I loved so 
much.' It was one of the few wishes of his 
that were fulfilled. I fear little care was taken 
in the distribution of the millions of francs that 
made up his private fortune. That does not 
detract from the man ; his intention was good. 

' I leave to my son my decorations, snuff-boxes, 
silver, etc ; and my arms, saddles, spurs, uniforms, 
and clothes, the grey coat and the blue cloak of 
Marengo. I give Count Montholon two million 
francs, for accompanying me here.' 

There was a small remembrance of his mother 
and all his sisters. They had at the bottom been 
strongly bound together. He even spoke in 
fine terms of Marie Louise ; although the English 
had assuredly not spared him an account of the 
way she was behaving. 

On May 2nd, in the delirium of high fever, he 
called out the names of the generals of his youth : 


' Steingel, Desaix, Mass&ia ! ' He saw the sun 
of Italy flashing on the bayonets. On May 4th there 
was a great storm on the island, and it tore up the 
last tree at Longwood. The Emperor lay still 
while the storm raged without. But as long as 
there was a spark of life hi him, they heard him 
muttering words of command. 

Years afterwards, until 1838, when the curtain 
had long since dropped and the darkness ^had 
settled over Europe once more, Talleyrand dragged 
his lame foot to the green tables, and sat amongst 
the clinking piles of gold, and played with other 
gold-seekers, new and old. 





DEC 1' 69 -8PM 

NOV 9 

NOV IB 1933 


JCV 11 1940 M 

JUN27 1945 


LD 21-100m-7,'33